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

Salesian Perspective

Today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom is a profound poem that invites us to meditate on the nature of our God.

The poet is attracted to the seeming opposites he finds in God:
  • How can the Lord of all creation be so affectionately aware of the most insignificant part of creation?
  • How can God’s transcendence be so compatible with intimate mercy?
  • How can an all-powerful God urge sinners to return to God so patiently?
We heard St. Paul encourage us to remember that the same loving God is bringing to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith in us. We have nothing to fear, even when we think of the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We are to be calm and hopeful in our vigilance, spending ourselves in loving and humble service to one another.

The story of Zacchaeus dramatizes the wonder of God’s love and mercy. The crowd is shocked when Jesus calls out to Zaccheus: “Come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” Why would God’s favor be shown to a tax collector, an enemy of the people? We were told that Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus with joy and vowed to live justly.

We heard Jesus announce his reason for coming into the world: “I have come to seek and to save what was lost.” In the person of Jesus, the God spoken of so eloquently in the Book of Wisdom is present among his creation that he loves.

In Jesus, salvation has come to the house of Zaccheus. The same mercy of God has come to our house. Our God shows us our sins so that we can abandon them and accept Jesus as Savior. As St. Francis de Sales reminds us: “Our sins are the throne of God’s mercy.” Think about what he is saying. God has chosen to meet us with his love in the most unlikely place: in our sins.

The Scriptures today are inviting us to reflect on the gracious mercy of our God made visible in Jesus. Jesus desires to stay in our sinful house today so that we can experience salvation.

May we welcome him with joy and allow Jesus to transform us ever more into children of our loving and merciful God.

Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS, is the Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center.