31st Sunday of Ordinary Time ( C ) 2019
“The Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.” Jesus isn’t really telling this to Zacchaeus, he’s telling it to us all. Did you notice Zacchaeus’ reaction when Jesus says he will come to his home, how Zacchaeus welcomed him joyfully. The man was lost and is now found; as a result he is full of joy. Only a person who has been lost and now found can really appreciate what this feels like.
I’m sure that many of us have lost things and then found them. I had such an experience recently when on a pilgrimage. I had run out of money; I didn’t have enough to buy a meal, as my bank account was overdrawn. Fortunately, someone put some money into my account but when I tried at the cash-machine in the morning there was still no money. I tried again in the evening, but still no money. No money meant no food. However, as I left the bank the manager called after me. He had the money I’d asked for in his hand; it seems the money had come through after all: he had heard it coming through. Well was I overjoyed. I couldn’t thank the manager enough. How wonderful to find something you thought you’d lost.
The same happens on another level, on a spiritual level. Many people get lost in the maze of life. Sometimes it’s due to circumstances beyond one’s control, sometimes we are the architects of our own downfall. It is not unusual for a teenager or young adult to be caught up in the materialism and secularism of our world. God is pushed onto the periphery and sometimes even further. Without the values of the Christian gospel we can get really lost. We can abandon what we once held dear, under the guise of freedom, so-called. In this world a person can become really unhappy. Life can become difficult and dark as we lose our innocence. And this can go on for years; in some cases a lifetime. People would not admit they are unhappy but they are. They wouldn’t admit they are lost but they are. But then one day we see the light, as the saying goes, and oh what joy.
I listened to a young lady yesterday at a conference. She was giving testimony about her life. Someone asked her when she first began to really live her faith. She said it was when she went to confession. Now, she explained, I’d been to confession before, but this time I had my first real confession, and she stressed the word “real”. She says she trusted this priest and poured out her heart to him; telling him all about her life. She says she told him everything. You could hear in her voice the joy as she remembered how she felt afterwards. The joy of being forgiven; the joy of knowing that you are loved.
This is how Zacchaeus felt. He had been a sinner; a greedy, selfish and corrupt man. Then Jesus came along; saw the goodness in him and forgave Zacchaeus. Surely one of the hallmarks of forgiveness is joy; it is a joy this world cannot give; only God can. And He so badly wants to. “For the Son of Man, says Jesus, has come to seek out and save what was lost.”