Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Psalm: 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14
Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Gospel Reading: Luke 19:1-10
By Jean Denton
Amid last summer’s series of tragic shootings in cities across the country, a news story reported that the alleged gunman who killed several police officers in Dallas had received tactical instruction at a private self-defense academy two years earlier.
According to the story, an instructor at the school recalled that the man had attended training there, but said, “I don’t know anything about Micah … he’s gone. He’s old to us. I have thousands of people.”
Naturally, this school spokesman wanted to distance the academy from the tragedy. But someone he’d once called by name in his class now had become to him a nonperson forgotten in a faceless crowd.
That gunman is an extreme example of a person lost from God.
While society no longer desires to claim him, today’s Scriptures tell us that God still does.
As unbelievable as that may seem, the Book of Wisdom explains the Creator’s unconditional love: “You love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made.”
Whether it is an extreme case or a mild case of someone turning away from God, Wisdom says God has “mercy on all” and “overlook(s) people’s sins that they may repent.”
It is unimaginable to the human mind, but the depth of God’s love and mercy is such that he forever seeks out the fallen and failed of his children to lift them free of evil and redeem them for a new life.
Simply put, that’s why he sent Jesus.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus embraces the reviled, sinful tax collector Zacchaeus, who then, transformed by love, responds by becoming the good man God created him to be. Jesus explains, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
He wants us to believe it — and to be part of it — even today when we see our world rocked and riven by meanness, violence and hatred.
Because we ourselves are blessed and redeemed by God, when we encounter a person in the throes of evil or otherwise lost from God, we need to remember here is someone who was preciously made by him in love. Then Jesus’ mission becomes ours: to seek and save the lost.
What are some specific examples of God’s love and saving grace in your life that inspire you to more intently seek out and embrace others who are lost? Who do you know who is lost from God?