Sunday of 31st Week of Ordinary C

When Does Salvation Come?

Joke: A pastor was asked by one of the presidential candidates, "Name something my government can do to help your church if I am elected president." The pastor replied, "Quit making one-dollar bills."

Getting closer to the end of the year, the Church puts the readings together to help us to prepare ourselves for the last day of our lives here on earth. In the last day of our lives, we might want to know where we are heading to. How would we know that we have salvation? In all today’s readings, the Church puts them together to help us answer this question.

In today’s Gospel, Saint Luke reminds us the story of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and a wealthy man, short in stature and eager to see who Jesus is. Translated into our language that Zacchaeus, a sinful man, stealing, cheating and robbing others, he didn’t believe in God and out of curiosity, he just wanted to see who Jesus is. He climbed up the sycamore tree to see Jesus, and Jesus caught sight of him and wanted to come to his house. Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus and made an amazing generous act saying, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” Then the Lord Jesus says to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Salvation does not only come when we depart from this earthly life, but it comes right here, right now when we are still alive. How would we receive salvation from the Lord in this life? Perhaps, when we are hunger and thirst for the Lord; when we respond to his call and welcome him into our lives; and when we have a true conversion of heart, then and only then, we would have salvation right here, right now on this earthly life. Salvation does not only come when we departed from this earthly, but it comes right here & right now when we are still alive. Salvation does not come in the past only, nor in the future only, but right now in our life time.

How would we recognize God in our lives when we seem to be small or powerless; when we seem not worthy for the Lord; & even when we seem to distance from him? Just as Zacchaeus, we are invited to seek for the Lord, to welcome him into our lives, and to have courage & strength to have a true conversion of heart. Just as Zacchaeus, a sinner, seeks the Lord Jesus, have you and I ever sought the Lord Jesus? Each time we receive Communion is each time we receive the Lord Jesus into our temple, our body. He seems closed to us, but are we closed to him? Or after the Mass, we go home and everything back to normal as if he’s never present in our lives. We still sin, dishonest, cheat, liar, disobey parents, cheat on homework, hate others, don’t want to forgive one who hurts us, and many other acts that seems there is no sense of repentance, no sense of conversion. Zacchaeus, his conversion was, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” This translates as Lord, I repent of what I have done wrong. I want to leave everything behind to follow you. When you and I go to confession, have we truly repented our sins and try not to sin again? Or the moment, we get home, the moment we go back to sin again as if things we have to do, things help us release our stress, and things just like everybody else does.

The true conversion of Zacchaeus touches the heart of Jesus that he responds to him saying, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.” Zacchaeus is still alive, and yet, he receives salvation from the Lord because of his true conversion. Apparently, we don’t have to die in order to experience the salvation, the heavenly joy and peace, we still can experience salvation and the heavenly joy and peace when we truly have a conversion of heart.

Since God is a loving and merciful God, slow to anger, and rich in kindness that he’s patiently waiting for us to come back to him as the author of the book of Wisdom reminds us in today’s first reading saying, the Lord “rebuke[s] offenders little by little, warn them and remind[s] them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you.” Since he “has come to seek and to save what was lost,” have you and I ever been lost? What would you and I do when we lost sight of the Lord on our Christian journey?

One of the Popes once shared a story that when he was little, his dad took him to a parade in his city. People were so crowded, and he was so small that he couldn’t see anything. His dad decided to carry him on his shoulders. From his shoulders, he could see everything even from a distance. The Pope then said, in those years of being Pope, every time he ran into difficulty that he would not know what to do, he often asked God in his prayer to carry him on his shoulders so he could see and know what to do.

Perhaps, when we are lost is the time that we need to come to seek for him just as Zacchaeus seeks for the Lord that he found himself and his salvation. Have you and I ever needed to seek for the Lord in our lives? Have you and I ever invited him into our lives? Have you and I ever had a true conversion of heart to take some actions to make up for our sins? What are we waiting for? Seek for the Lord, invite him into our lives, and have a true conversion of heart. Decision is yours.

 

Weekend Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Nguyen


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