31st Sunday of the Year – How do we respond?


Study:  Look back on some recent responses to others.  Have these responses been guided by Jesus Christ?

Pray:  Are there any major decisions or challenges in my life?  Take these to prayer and ask the Lord for direction.

Serve:  How can I help someone to make the right decision?  How can I help them make a holy response to their circumstances?

31st Sunday Readings

A man had two twin sons.  One son was an optimist, the other was a pessimist.  On their birthday their father brought them to the barn.  Two stalls were marked, one with each boy’s name, and in the middle of each stall was a small pile of manure.

The pessimist immediately began to complain of the smell, wondering why he had to clean up the mess of an animal.  The optimist immediately began to search through the barn.  When his grinning father asked him what he was looking for, the boy replied, “I want to see my new horse!”

Life often offers us situations that contain both good and bad elements.  At such times we have the opportunity to make choices that illustrate our priorities and values.  In others words, our responses reveal what is going on in our hearts.

The Gospel today offers two powerful responses.  Jesus and Zacchaeus both respond to the situations in which they are placed, and their actions reveal their sincerity and conviction.

Jesus encounters Zacchaeus on his journey through Jericho.  We are informed that Zacchaeus is a chief tax collector – despised by the local population as a greedy man who supports the Roman Empire.  He is a “sinner” to the people, and their grumbling shows that they believed he had no business with Jesus.

Yet the Lord makes no distinction in his greeting to Zacchaeus.  He calmly speaks to the man, informing him that he will dine at his house that day.  The response of Jesus is simple:  he reaches out to a person in need of conversion and healing, regardless of past history.

Zacchaeus also displays an amazing response.  The fact that he climbed a tree to see the Lord indicates that he wanted to make a change in his own life.  When Jesus offers him an invitation, Zacchaeus immediately accepts; furthermore, he boldly states a change of heart in his financial practice!

These two responses serve as an invitation for us as well.  Like Jesus, we may examine those situations where we are called to reach out to others.  Like Zacchaeus, we may study those moments when we wish to accept the mercy and help of another.  In both cases, our responses will reveal what is going on in our hearts.  May the Lord help us to choose wisely, as we respond to the world around us.

About Fr. Andrew Ricci

A Catholic priest since 1997, Fr. Andrew Ricci is currently the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI. His website "Three Great Things" can be found at studyprayserve.com and his podcasts can be found under "Catholic Inspiration" in the iTunes store. View all posts by Fr. Andrew Ricci

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