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Homily for 31st Sunday October 30-31, 2010

posted Nov 6, 2010, 11:00 AM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

31st Sunday of the Year

St. Mary's, Huntingburg

October 30-31, 2010

 

 

            The Gospels (in another place) tell us that Jesus walked up to the fishermen Peter and his brother Andrew ... and their partners, James and John ...

... Jesus walked up to them while they were washing their nets ...

... and Jesus just said "follow me" ...

And those four men simply dropped everything ... abandoned their nets ... left their livelihoods ... their families ... and followed after Jesus ...

 

            The Gospels (in another place) tell us that Jesus walked up to Matthew the tax collector while he was busy collecting taxes ... Jesus looked at him ... and simply said "follow me" ... and Matthew stood up and left it all behind ... without so much as asking a question.

 

            And today, we have this story about the chief tax collector, Zacchaeus ...

Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus ... and he wanted to see Jesus ... but since Zacchaeus was short and because of the crowds ... Zacchaeus climbed a tree in order to see Jesus ...

And walking through that great crowd of people, Jesus picked out Zacchaeus ... and Jesus looked up at him and said: "Zacchaeus, come down quickly for I must stay at your house today."

Period.

That was the exchange between them ... and all of a sudden, Zacchaeus says that he will give half of his possessions to the poor and repay, four times over, anyone he has cheated ... which was probably a lot of people, based on the way that tax collectors operated in those days.

A complete turn-around based on that one encounter.

 

            Obviously, to encounter Jesus is to be changed by the experience.

Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, Zacchaeus ... they all encountered Jesus ... and their lives were changed ... turned upside down, really.

Freely ... willingly ... fervently ... they decided to change their lives.

What was it about Jesus ... about his presence ... his teaching ...?

Without knowing it consciously, of course, in Jesus, they had come face-to-face with the infinite love, the tender compassion, the all-encompassing wisdom of God ... and perhaps they felt the "pull" of it, the attraction, the call ...

And confronted with God's unconditional love for them in Jesus,... meeting in Jesus the divine compassion for their every suffering ... encountering in Jesus the truth of how they should live and what they should value and where their lives should go ... those people in the Gospel knew that they had to change ... they simply had to follow Jesus ... learn from him ... draw close to God through him ... to God who, in Jesus, wanted to draw close to them.

Obviously, to encounter Jesus is to be changed by the experience.

 

            Well, of course ... maybe more accurately ... it depends ...

In fact, we know from the Gospels that it didn't always happen that way ...

There were undoubtedly lots of folks in the crowds that gathered around Jesus ... who were not quite that moved ... yes, they heard Jesus  teach too .... they too saw the miracles ... they too ate the bread and fish that Jesus had multiplied ... and maybe they had a passing thought of change ... an inclination toward conversion ... a glimpse of a life turned around ... and then, those people just went back to their old, comfortable, live-life-like-I-want-to-live-it kind of life ..

And, then, too there were the Pharisees ...

The Pharisees encountered Jesus too ... heard him teach ... saw the miracles ... maybe some of them ate the bread and the fish ... and they didn't just walk away ... they were downright hostile to Jesus.

So, apparently, to encounter Jesus doesn't always mean being changed by the experience.

 

            But how could that be?

How could some have their lives uprooted by the encounter ... while others just walked away?

Well, maybe we could say "faith is a gift" ... and they just didn't receive the gift ... well, maybe ...

Or maybe at least the Pharisees were blinded by something else: blinded by their pre-conceived notions about God and how God is supposed to act and what God wants ...

Or maybe, more commonly, deep down, a lot of those people didn't want to change ... they liked to listen to Jesus ... they were curious ... they kindda believed ... but, at the same time, they liked their lives the way they were ...

It's hard to love and to forgive and to be patient and to be generous ... as Jesus was teaching ...

Maybe deepdown those people even sensed that Jesus' path was leading to the Cross ... to surrender ... to trust ... to blind faith ...

After all, God can be so demanding ... God always wants us to do things his way ... when we like to do things our way ... and it was just easier for them to walk away ...

 

            Maybe we could say, then ... more accurately ... that to encounter Jesus is to be changed ... if we are open to it ... if we're willing ...

Well, if that's the case ... and we have some choice to make in encountering Jesus ... well, then, what's going to happen here today ... here at this Eucharist ... here in this church with you and me?

Because the fact is that you and I encounter the Lord Jesus here and now...

No, we don't see him here in flesh-and-blood bodies like ours ... but he is here in his flesh and his blood.

In fact, we do more than just "encounter" him here ... we hear his voice in his Holy Word ... and, still more, we take his very life ... in our hands ... on our tongues ... we take in his very life ... we commune with him ... we eat his sacred body and blood ...

Well, then ... will we be changed?

Will you and I be changed by this encounter?

Or better said ... will we let the Lord change us ... even a little ... or will we walk away  as so many in the crowds apparently did  ...

Will we let him change us ... even a little ... how we view our lives ... what we consider to be our priorities ...

Or will we be like those many who heard him speak and saw the miracles and ate the bread that he provided ... who kinda believed ... but walked away and went back to their own comfortable, I'm-in-control, and I-like-doing-what-I-like-doing lives ...?

 

            Zacchaeus was blessed to encounter Jesus ... and he allowed his life to be turned upside down .. Zacchaeus responded ... Zacchaeus changed ...

And Jesus said to him: "Today, I must stay at your house ..."

Here at this Eucharist, we too encounter Jesus ... and he tells us too that he wants to stay in our homes too ... he wants a place in the midst of our families ... in our workplaces ...

He wants to dwell in our hearts ... in our way of living ... in our relationships ....

Well, then, ... is it "yes" ... or ... it is "no"?

Is this life-changing guest really welcome in our homes ... or not?

Will we let him change us ... or not?

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