Homily — 31st Sunday OT C November 4, 2007

Homily — 31st Sunday OT C                November 4, 2007

Several years ago I was asked by a young married couple if I could come over and bless their new home.   And when I got to the house, there was the husband and wife, with their baby which I had recently baptized, and also present was the family cat.  I can’t remember the cat’s name, but it was all white, and had more hair all over it’s face and body than any cat I’ve ever seen.

After I had finished the House Blessing, sprinkling Holy Water in each room, I sat down at the Kitchen Counter with the couple for a drink.   And on the Kitchen counter, there was one of those Big sized Yankee Candles burning.   So the husband and wife and I are talking to each other, when all of a sudden the cat jumps up on the counter, makes a bee line right to the Candle, and starts sticking her big fluff ball of a face into the lit candle.

Fortunately we got the two separated from each other before a disaster happened.   Afterwards, I told the couple that blessed house or not, they either needed to stop burning candles, or give their cat a good haircut!

I was reminded of that incident by today’s Gospel reading.   The hairy faced cat I just mentioned thought she could poke her head into a lit Yankee Candle, take a look at it, and go on her merry way.   And Zacchaeus, the Chief Tax Collector we meet in the Gospel, thought he could just climb the sycamore tree, get a close look at Jesus and go on his merry way also.   But one can’t get close to Jesus without it having an effect on one’s life.

Probably, Zacchaeus climbed the tree out out of curiosity.  He maybe thought it would impress people he worked with to say he saw this famous person Jesus the other day, and to give them his impression of Jesus based on what he saw.    But what Zacchaeus didn’t bargain on was that when he was high enough up the tree to finally see Jesus, Jesus is looking right back at him!

And Zacchaeus probably glanced behind him to see if there was someone else in the tree Jesus was looking at, because the look of joy and love Jesus had on His face wasn’t a look this chief tax collector got too often, if ever.

And then, not only does Jesus look lovingly at him, the Lord then also calls out to him by name:  “Zacchaeus!”   And the love and joy and mercy in Jesus’ eyes are even more present in Jesus’ voice; and what began as a superficial curiosity on Zacchaeus’ part is becoming a moment of major conversion for him, whether he likes it or not.

Then finally, Jesus says to Zacchaeus “Come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”   Jesus wants Zacchaeus to act quickly, while God’s love and grace is burning bright in his heart.  Jesus realizes that He’s caught a big fish, a big sinner, and that He must stay at Zacchaeus’ house, He must spend some more time with Zacchaeus, if this man’s conversion is to become permanent and lasting.

And Zacchaeus, responding to that Look, that Call, that Command, by the grace of God does come down quickly and receives Christ into his home.   And before you know it, he’s giving half of his fortune to the poor, he’s making restitution four fold to those he sinned against.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.

Yes, Fluffy, long haired cats should stay far away from burning Yankee Candles.  But tax collectors and all of us sinners should draw very near to Jesus.

May you and I do whatever effort it takes in seeking the Lord in prayer, that we may catch a glimpse of Jesus’ face as He passes us by.  If we take that effort, we will see Jesus make eye contact with us, and call us by name, and bid us to quickly come down and receive Him into our house.

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