Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 3, 2019
As I reflected on today’s Gospel, the face of Zacchaeus (a man described as “short in stature”) became for me the face of Fr. Bob Boisaubin, a former senior associate pastor at St. Joseph’s in Manchester, who died this week. Fr. Bob often joked about his stature just to draw you in to conversation. It was there that you met his giant and loving heart.
The sycamore tree Zacchaeus climbed “seeking to see who Jesus was” became for me the barstool behind the altar that Fr. Bob would climb onto to celebrate the occasional Mass at St. Joe’s after his retirement.
It was always an honor to assist Fr. Bob in his climb onto his perch (or that crazy scooter he used to drive) and always a joy to serve him at the altar. Let us keep Fr. Bob and his family in our prayers this week.
WE SEE GOD
I don’t climb trees anymore. But as a child, my friends and I would sometimes test our tree-climbing skills. I remember sitting on a tree branch, high above the earth. The world around us looked and sounded different. All the worries and cares of a 10-year-old seemed to vanish. We may have been only a few feet above the ground, but it made us feel like we were worlds away. It was a very relaxing (somewhat spiritual) experience.
In our adult lives, we too, benefit from placing ourselves in different spaces where we can see and hear things differently. Maybe for you it’s sitting on the beach, listening to the waves crashing on the shoreline. Maybe it’s a beautiful sunrise or sunset with a gentle breeze blowing on your face. Or maybe it’s sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold fall night.
Similar experiences can occur in our spiritual lives as well:
- In Adoration, we can experience Jesus in a different and more intimate setting
- In reflective prayer, we can connect with the Holy Spirit alive within us
- Reading and meditating on holy scripture (with all earthly distractions put on hold), can help us hear God speaking to us in new and different ways.
Like Zacchaeus, it is good for us to place ourselves in positions where we can “see who Jesus is” in our lives.
The question I invite you to think about this week is this: In what ways are you willing to “see who Jesus is” in your life? What are you willing to do in prayer and reflection this week to grow in relationship with God, and to observe the Spirit working in your life?
GOD SEES US
You know, something happened unexpectedly in today’s Gospel. When Zacchaeus climbed that sycamore tree to see Jesus, Jesus looked up and saw Zacchaeus, and engaged him in dialogue. Jesus invited himself to spend time with Zacchaeus at his house. Zacchaeus agreed, and his life was changed forever.
In our prayer and reflection – in our times of solitude – Jesus sees us and speaks to our hearts. So, listen to him. Open your heart and mind to him. Follow him to new and exciting places in your life.
LITTLE BY LITTLE GOD GUIDES
Today’s Gospel closes with this reminder: “… the Son of Man [Jesus] has come to seek and to save what was lost.” That was Christ’s mission in Zacchaeus time; it’s still his mission today – to seek and save us. And he does so in a way described in our First Reading today From the Book of Wisdom we learn that God guides us “little by little” to become what he wants for us, warning us to abandon our sinfulness, and trust in Him.
This is always easier to do if we take time for quiet prayer and reflection in our daily life. So, this week, I invite you to “go out on a limb” (without climbing a tree). Ask yourself:
To what lengths am I willing to go to “see who Jesus is” in my life?