From Our Pastor: 31st Sunday In Ordinary Time
We continue the Lord’s merciful explanation, but also intervention. The first reading from the book of Wisdom talks about the grandeur of the Lord and the immensity of who He is. The universe is but a drop of morning dew before the Lord. In God’s immensity and grandeur so also is the extent of His mercy. It is immense and grand how merciful the Lord is. Wisdom sorts through this discussion of this Lover of souls. But notice very clearly the Lord rebukes, yes little by little, but He rebukes! He warns and reminds so as to not leave them in their sins, but that because of His mercy they may abandon their wickedness and believe in the Lord. God is merciful, but He doesn’t leave us there. He calls us out of our sins and into belief and relationship with Him.
The Gospel today from Luke is a story as an example of the first reading. Zacchaeus, one of my favorite characters in the scriptures (as he is short, but curious and responsive), was a grave sinner. He was trying to see Jesus. Just see Him! Jesus sees him, calls him, and encounters Zacchaeus in the moment and in his home. Zacchaeus’ response to the encounter with Jesus is joy, but ALSO the most important response is his conversion. He gives away his possessions, gives to the poor, gives back to those he harms four times over and gives the Lord His whole heart. The stuff and money were the thing truly blocking his view and encounter with Jesus, not the crowd. The crowd was a metaphor for the many things in the way of his relationship
with the Lord. When he finally does encounter Jesus and see Him, then his response is repentance, reparation and generosity. Jesus doesn’t leave Zacchaeus in his sins, but in the encounter with the Lord, just the encounter, Zacchaeus responds by change. We receive not only the encounter, but we receive God’s grace to overcome our sins with His help.
We get to see Him face to face every Sunday and not only see Him but receive Him, but often we don’t go out of our way for this experience, where Zacchaeus takes risks, runs around, and even climbs trees. If we just put that same effort forth, we would finally see the Lord Jesus in a way that WE would finally notice that Jesus has always been looking at you and calling you to Himself. He calls you by name just like Zacchaeus. He desires to be in your home and heart! He just needs you to make room for Him and invite Him in just like Zacchaeus. We need to put forth the effort! Risk, run and climb and whatever it takes to have this encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ as He desires you. Through this encounter, every Sunday where we do see Him, we too hear those words, “Today salvation has come to this house,” as we cry out, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.” Encounter Him and make room in your heart and homes, as He came to seek, we who are lost, but comes to find us so we are lost no more.
This week is a Holy Day of Obligation on November 1, ALL SAINTS DAY! Remember these are not optional, but obligational. This is not a request, but a requirement. Holy days are difficult, but honestly, they are meant to be difficult. The Church sees Sunday mass as a given and easy. Holy Days make us pause and stop our lives to make the Lord THE priority of our life to plug into major parts of our salvation. All Saints Day is good news for us, as it remembers those who went before broken and sinful that converted to the Lord and followed Him faithfully and are with Him eternally in Heaven. This should give us hope that we too can follow where they go, which is to Christ the source of salvation.
All Souls Day is not an obligation, but it is a holy day as we commemorate all those who have died that we don’t yet recognize in heaven. We all have someone to commemorate in our lives that may need our prayers. We wear black on this day as a sign of our mourning and prayers, which is proper to all funerals, but especially today. Someone who may still need our prayers and someone we desire to be close to again. There is nowhere in this life where we are closer to those loved ones who went before us “marked with the sign of faith” than in the mass. All of heaven, purgatory, and earth are united in this moment of the mass. Make All Saints Day the priority it needs to be, but also know how beautiful it is to pause and pray for the dead this All Souls Day, as one day we may need those prayers of the faithful and mass offered for us!
-Rev. Steven Arisman