Disturb me, O Lord. Make me uncomfortable. The trend today seems to be to avoid discomfort, sometimes at all costs. In many ways, the current state of affairs in our country is the inability to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable. Whenever it happens, we are tempted to avoid it. And yet, we need to remember the source of our discomfort may be God himself.
It’s a dangerous job to be a prophet. Usually it does not end well. The prophet Isaiah minces no words in speaking to the people. “Worm” and “Maggot” are not usually terms of endearment. But the message he offers is one we too need to hear. We need to convert more fully and completely to Jesus, so he is able to come into our hearts.
I find today’s gospel so comforting. Jesus tells us that there is no sin so grave God cannot forgive it. He searches us out, he seeks us, he showers us with grace. There is nothing God desires more than our salvation.
In my ministry as a priest, I have have listened many times to parents who are sad that despite their best efforts, their adult children do not practice the faith. But we need to remember that faith is a gift, and as a gift, must be received by the recipient. Saint Monica today reminds us the prayers of a mother (or a father) are powerful indeed in bringing back an adult son or daughter to faith.
Today our responsorial psalm talked about crying out to God. What an appropriate psalm response for our current age. Is this not the time we are crying out to God?
What happens when you are supposed to be concerned about people you really do not like? What if you are to tell them something that could be for their own good, but you do not want them to hear it for fear they might do it?
It is interesting that today’s gospel story of Zacchaeus could be seen as a summary of the entire gospel. The mission of Jesus is quite interesting, as fundamentally he travels around helping the broken to know they are powerfully loved by God. Zacchaeus, despite his wealth, is one such broken person. While the gospel does not explicitly confirm that Zacchaeus cheated people, his position as a tax collector, his immediate statements about correcting fraud and extortion, and the reaction of the crowd seem to suggest Zacchaeus has not always been a man of good character. But the loving gaze of Jesus, and a surprising invitation make a big change in his life. Here how the gospel can be reduced to four movements or steps, and see how your life can change by embracing them.
Sometimes we can draw conclusions about people based only upon external actions. And while part of this is normal, if we give it a little reflection, we often realize that making such a judgement on scant evidence means that we do not know much about a person. A focus on only the externals can cause us to miss the fundamental dignity of the internals. We know a person is more than what they do. In our lives of faith, we too must find ourselves concerned not only with what we do, but also with who we are. Our external actions must be motivated by the way we find ourselves driven by internal conversion.