Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 30, 2016)

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus desiring to enter the home of the lost even before they are penitent. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Our Savior helps us to find His Heart full of pity and kind mercy toward us even when our hearts are most hardened. Like Zaccheus, we need only the desire to see who Jesus is. Our Redeemer constantly bestows His holy love upon us. He continually pardons our daily faults against Him. He rewards our slightest services with great favors. He continues to recreate humanity through His merciful love for the whole human family.

How does the greatness of God’s mercy shine forth? God’s mercy makes us embrace what is good. While we truly belong to God, God has no slaves, only friends who choose to love freely. Conversion, on our part, depends on our free response to God’s love. We are ready to respond wholeheartedly to God’s love when we begin to purify our affections and works by forming them according to the Gospel. If we let go of our willful pursuit of self-serving things, we delightfully find that our spirit is liberated. Then we are free to choose the true and good life that God desires for us in Christ.

This practice of letting go of all that is not of God in us is a continual life-long struggle. For certainly as long as we live we shall have need of renewing ourselves, and of beginning over. This restoration is needed inasmuch as our changeable nature easily grows cold and begins to fail. There is no clock so perfect that it does not need repair. Like the clock that needs to be oiled so that it will be less subject to rust, you need to anoint your heart with the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist to restore your strength, and warm up your heart. In this way you consecrate yourself again to God’s love. If we really take care of our heart, each day we will renew it for God’s service.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)