Going Out On A Limb For Christ

2022년 10월 30일

Going Out On A Limb For Christ

< Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time >

 Just before a Catholic basketball player takes a foul shot, he makes the sign of the cross. Many Catholics bless themselves when they pass in front of a church. Others cross themselves when they hear news of a death or other tragedy. These small gestures show the world that one is Catholic, but it’s relatively easy because there are no negative consequences for doing it. But what about us? Would we make the sign of the cross if it attracted attention? Do we hide our Catholicism when we’re in public? It’s easy to be Catholic in church. After all, we’re surrounded by fellow Catholics. But how Catholic are you out in the world? When you go to a restaurant with friends, do you say grace before the meal, even if some of the people at your table are not Catholic? To be sure, praying or making the sign of the cross in public draws people’s attention to us. And it might not be favorable attention.

This is what happened in today’s gospel story. Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and wanted to see him and see what all the excitement was about. The problem was, Zacchaeus was short and could not see over the heads of the people surrounding. So what did he do? Without giving it a second thought, he climbed a tree. But by doing so, he made himself the target of verbal abuse. You see, Zacchaeus was a despised tax collector. By going out on a limb to see Christ, he was setting himself up for ridicule. But then, something amazing happened. Jesus looked up and called him— by name! Now the people turned their scorn at Jesus. He invited himself to the house of a sinner! But Zacchaeus stood his ground and responded by offering to pay back anyone he may have defrauded. Notice Zacchaeus’ action was in response to Jesus’ desire to dine at his house. In other words, his act of restitution came in response to God’s gift; God’s gift was not a reward for Zacchaeus’ repentance. The gospel challenges us to go out on a limb and show our faith in Jesus, even if it draws unwanted attention to us, and to respond generously when Jesus calls us by name and volunteers to go home with us.