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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Have the Same Disposition as Zacchaeus

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 30, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, Arizona, USA

“Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”

Today for this 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time we once again hear the story of Zacchaeus.
Those around him did not look kindly upon this man. He was a tax collector, and such were despised and viewed as criminals. Yet, a transformation takes place in the life of this so called criminal. 

Zacchaeus heard that Jesus would be passing through his town of Jericho, and he strongly desired to see Him. Something extraordinary moved his heart.

So, Zacchaeus does everything he can to see Our Lord. He was short and couldn't see over
the crowd, but Zacchaeus would not give up. He climbed a tree. 

And that caught Our Lord’s attention. Therefore through his perseverance, Zacchaeus  received the salvation he so deeply wanted.  

He understood  that his life needed to change. Therefore, Zacchaeus says to our Lord, “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.”

Fr John Paul Shea
My brothers and sisters, the overall message of today’s Gospel is that if we want to experience the presence of the Lord in our lives, if we want Our Lord to come stay in  our hearts, then we must have the same disposition as Zacchaeus.
Reflect on your relationship to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Such a relationship takes effort on your part.  God sees our hearts. He knows our deepest desires. 
In Zacchaeus' story, there was a crowd of people. Yet, Jesus only dined in one home because Zacchaeus showed a deep desire for Christ, and demonstrated his willingness to give Our Lord whatever was required in order to receive eternal salvation!

My brothers and sisters, look at your intentions. Do you want an encounter with Christ? Then make an effort in your spiritual life. When you come to Mass, seriously seek to meet Our Lord. Have an open heart. Be willing to change.  

Don't become another person in the crowd of Catholics who does not connect with Jesus because you do not make the effort. Pray,
come to Mass every week, come to the Sacrament of Confession. 

We have over 1 billion Catholics today. Unlike  other Christian denominations, we have the True Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ right here in our midst. We have the opportunity to receive His Presence into our bodies and our souls every day! How much do we truly want to experience this great gift! How easy it is to take this gift for granted. 

We have the truth, yet many Catholics ignore our Church’s’ teachings on contraception. But, for those striving to follow Church teaching on chastity and contraception, Our Lord says, "Today salvation has come to your house.” Our Lord blesses these couples because they offer their love and intimacy in a way that pleases Him.

Many see Church teachings as nothing but rules and regulations. But in actuality they are blessings.  When individuals, couples, and families offers themselves to God according to His will and His plan, then salvation comes to their house.

The bottom line in the message of today’s Gospel is that God sees our faithfulness. He sees our holy desires, and He blesses those who truly seek Him with a contrite heart. 

We live in a world that is crowded with many people. Yet, among the sinners, Our Lord makes Himself available to those hearts who truly seek Him and try to conform their lives to His teachings.

Therefore, set yourselves apart from the rest of the crowd by coming to God with a sincere heart. It doesn’t matter where we have been or what we have done. What matters is that we truly want Our Lord's attention and we are willing to offer Him our lives. 

If we come to Our Lord this way -- without holding anything back -- we will hear the words He spoke to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house because [you too] are a descendant of Abraham.”

May God bless us and help us. Amen.

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