Homily for the 31st Sunday of the Year

27 – 28 October 2022

Dear Friends,

We continue this week to reflect on the virtue of humility which we started to look at last week. A brief recap: we saw last week, when reflecting on the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector, as a rule, pride corrupts virtue whereas humility raises up the sinful. This lesson invited us approach the 40 Hour Devotion this weekend (28/29/30 October) with the same attitude, one of humility. In this way our devotion, unlike the pharisee, will be a manifestation of our humility rather than a substitute for it, against which Our Lord has warned.

This weekend’s readings, which take place over the 40 Hours, is about a tax collector, Zacchaeus by name. Had he heard about Our Lord’s parable and come to see for himself the religious teacher who used one of his own kind as a possible example of virtue? Zacchaeus took risks to see Our Lord, risks which required humility. By entering onto the path of Our Lord he exposed himself to a crowd of people whom he had exploited for financial gain – he was not welcome among this crowd. And Zacchaeus risked the mockery of his “well-to-do” peers which most likely would follow when they heard he’d climbed a tree to see Our Lord.

Zacchaeus’ small act of humility was all Our Lord needed to transform Zacchaeus’ life. The same is true for us. Humility predisposes us to accept Our Lord into our lives, just as Zacchaeus accepted Him into his house, and then into his life.

In the context of the 40 Hours we can observe the following lessons from this story that pertain to us. Firstly, Our Lord doesn’t wait for us to be perfect before he reaches out to us. Through the ministry of the Church, in the Blessed Sacrament, in the confessional, Jesus calls us, asking to be let into our homes and our lives.

Secondly, we can be sure we have let Our Lord into our lives when we see the following responses in us: faith, repentance, and discipleship. To have faith in God means to trust him. Sometimes it is useful to substitute the word “faith” for “trust” for us to enter more fully into what faith really is. This is the faith Our Lord called for when he praised the children saying, “unless you become like little children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).

Over the course of these 40 hours, we have the opportunity to humble ourselves in the confessional, and to trust our lives and loved ones to the Lord who is with us on the altar. As we do this we can hear the words of Our Lord addressed to Zacchaeus addressed also to us, “today salvation has come to this house”.