First Sunday of Advent (year A)

We have all had the experience, of someone telling us they will be coming to pick us up for an appointment or event; or of preparing for a vacation or a journey, and being told to gather what we need and to ‘be ready’ for when our transportation arrives.  Sometimes we wait longer than expected; at other times, our ‘ride’ arrives before we are ready.

In the mid-1990’s I had the opportunity to serve in a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Among the challenges of working in that war-torn region at the time, was the ever-present possibility that tensions could escalate quickly and fighting could erupt, beyond our ability to contain it or to defend ourselves;  And so there was always the chance that we would have to evacuate our area of operations.  If that happened, we were to get out any way we could, and regroup in a secure location, taking as many people to safety with us as we could.

Part of our daily routine was to be ready for this possibility, and to that end, we were instructed to prepare and carry what came to be known as ‘the bug out bag’ in case we had to ‘bug out’ or leave without a moment’s notice.  The bag was to contain basic survival items -water, food, first aid supplies – we would need for three to five days; and the bag was to be kept readily at hand.  The bag remained beside us when we were working, eating, sleeping, – it was a constant reminder of how unstable and fragile our position really was; and how without warning or advance notice, our entire lives could change dramatically.  But still we had to ‘be ready’.

While not perfect, these examples can perhaps give us a little insight into today’s Gospel.  Jesus, speaking to His disciples – and us, describes how sudden and immediate His return in judgment will be at the end of time.  He tells each one of us to ‘keep awake’, to ‘be ready’, for we do not know’ on what day the Lord is coming’; and He compares His return with the stealth and sudden-ness of a thief in the night. 

Now unlike the home owner fearing a thief, we look forward to and await the return of Christ – we not only believe He will return, as we say each time we recite the words of the Creed – but we hope for and desire His return – we look to that great day in joyful anticipation, when we will be reunited with God in His Heavenly Kingdom, with all of our loved ones, the angels, and the saints who have gone before us.

But our preparing for Jesus is not only for His return in glory; it is not enough for us to think we have everything ready, and then sit back and wait.  We are invited and instructed by Christ Himself to be ready to encounter Him not only at the end of time, or when our own individual lives end and we take that step from this world into eternity – we are invited by Jesus to be ready to meet Him daily, in the many ways he enters into our reality. 

We encounter Christ daily in the poor and the suffering; we serve Him in those who are troubled and grieving; we meet Him in those who are neglected or abandoned.  We can also encounter him in the joyful – in those who celebrate their love for God and others in their acts of self-giving and generosity of spirit.

But as with His Second Coming – we don’t get to decide the time or the place where we meet Him in those around us – these situations come upon us at a time that is not of our choosing; yet it is in just these situations that it becomes our individual decision whether this is to be a chance for us to meet and serve our Lord, or whether it is an opportunity missed….

‘The coming of the Son of Man’ …these are the words Jesus uses in St. Matthew’s Gospel, describing an event of tremendous and cosmic importance – this phrase in Latin is ‘adventus Filii hominis’ , and it is where we get the name of this season which we are just beginning, Advent. 

Traditionally the season of Advent is that time that we prepare our hearts and our homes for the coming of Jesus, culminating with the wonderful celebration commemorating His birth at Christmas.  But it is a season that we can and should set aside time to ‘wake from our sleep’ as St. Paul tells us in our Second Reading from the letter to the Romans, and to ‘put on the armour of light’ – in other words to prepare our own ‘bug out bag’ to be ready to meet Jesus, and to bring others to meet Him as well.  

How should we prepare then? What do we need to carry in our own kit?

Well Christ gives us three main tools we can include:

First, before all else, we should pray, remembering that everything is a gift from God – even the desire to pray and to communicate with God is a gift.  Whether we use Scripture, pray the familiar prayers, or whether we formulate our own words, we need to take time and pray from the heart – St. Teresa of Avila once wrote that prayer is simply lifting our hearts and minds to God.   It’s important to remember though, that prayer is a conversation – and just as with any conversation, it is not what we say that is most important, but how we listen and what we hear.  We can’t communicate with someone or have a relationship if our conversations consist of us talking and talking and not giving the other the chance to speak in return. We need to allow quiet time to reflect and hear what God is saying to us.

Secondly, we need to re-orient our selves towards God; this is what conversion is all about – as St. Augustine, another doctor of the church stated, conversion is the opposite of sin – conversion is the ongoing, intentional, deliberate, turning or orienting of our selves towards God – whereas sin is the deliberate intentional continuous turning away from God and inward on our selves.  The soul that continues on this path ends up in a spiral and becomes so turned inward that they cannot see or find their own way out to anyone else and they eventually give in to bitterness, anger and despair.  Those who turn to God though, experience healing, love and peace; and it is a continuous process – not a just a single moment in time.

The sacrament of reconciliation is an excellent means of beginning and continuing on this path of conversion – and if I might share something that may take some of the ‘fear’ or ‘hesitance’ out of coming to this wonderful healing sacrament; after examining our conscience, and once inside the confessional -before we discuss our sins with the priest – first say out loud at least one way in which God has blessed you – more if you like- but raise your blessings first ; whether they be family, a spouse, parents, children, friends, employment – whatever it may be – give thanks to God first – You’ll be amazed at how it changes your perspective on confession – instead of asking for forgiveness of God out of fear of punishment for your sins, you’ll find that you ask for forgiveness of a loving God who has already done so much for you and wants to do so much more for you.

The third supply we can include is frequent reception of Holy Communion at Mass, especially during this time of Advent; in fact, it is the one time that we know we are encountering Jesus in a very real way.  During Holy Mass, when we approach the altar, we hold out our hands or open our mouths, and open our hearts to receive Jesus’ Sacred Body and Precious Blood..  Jesus comes to us in His very Real Presence in this incredible gift — we become living vessels of Jesus Himself – just like the tabernacle that holds the Body of Christ – just like the Blessed Virgin Mary who carried Jesus in her own womb – we receive and take into ourselves Christ our Lord.   Christ’s coming to each one of us doesn’t get any more intimate than that – and while it is a blessing we should all be thankful for, it is a blessing we should pray that all people may come to experience.

Blessed Guerric of Igny, a spiritual writer of the 12th century put it all beautifully ; “ We are awaiting the birthday of Christ and, according to the Lord’s promise, soon we shall see it…but even before His coming (to all people), may the Lord come to you! Before he appears to the whole world, may He come to visit you intimately, He who said: ‘I will not leave you orphans’…the first coming was humble and hidden; the final one will be startling and magnificent.  The coming we speak of -within us- is hidden also, but it is no less magnificent…He arrives without being seen, and he leaves without being noticed…His presence alone is light for the soul and the mind…inspires within the soul who contemplates Him a gentle and happy admiration, so that deep within that person, a cry wells up ‘Lord, who is there like you?’ Those who have experienced it already know the answer, and – please God – may those who have not experienced it desire to!”

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

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Christ the King (year C)

‘If’ can be one of the most debilitating words in the English language.

We use it to express regrets ‘ if I had only known this would happen I would have done things differently’; we use it to lay blame for being dis-satisfied; ‘if I just buy that bigger screen or if I can get the latest fashion, then my life will be better”. We use it as an excuse to ‘not’ do something – ‘what if it doesn’t work or what if they don’t like me’.

“If’ becomes a means of doubt as well; we hear it all the time, particularly when tragedy or disaster strikes; ‘if God is good, why does He allow suffering’; or, ‘if God exists why doesn’t He just make everyone nice and fix everything that gets broken in our world’?

We might cling to that ‘if’ and use it to challenge God, much the way an adolescent uses the word in a relationship to get what they want; ‘if you really loved me, you would do what I want’.  That’s not love. That’s manipulation, and it emphasizes immaturity and self-absorption of an individual. 

It may seem strange to celebrate a feast that proclaims Jesus Christ as the King of all creation by reading part of the crucifixion narrative from St. Luke’s gospel.

We hear how the leaders mocked Christ the King, on the cross;”let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, His chosen one.”

The soldiers join in; “if you are the King of the Jews, save yourself”

Even one of the criminals hanging on a cross beside Him demands the same ‘save yourself and us’ if you are the Christ…..if, if, if.

It is only the other thief, crucified on His other side, who recognizes in this moment, the lowest possible point in his own life, his own brokenness; and it is in this brokenness that he simply says, “Jesus , remember me when you come into your kingdom’. 

It is the one with nothing left to lose, who recognizes that he is completely powerless to change anything around him, who admits his total helplessness, simply speaks in total humility, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’

It is in this absolute low point, this suffering and humiliation that Jesus shows His regal bearing, His Kingship, and His ability to show victory in the face of apparent defeat.

In a response of absolute compassion Jesus tells the man, ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’  Jesus shows the depth of his love for those who come to him in humility by ministering with words of comfort for a repentant heart, even in the midst of his own tremendous agony and suffering.

Like the repentant thief, Jesus waits for each one of us with compassion and love when we come to him in true humility – that is after all, how we would approach a King; with reverence and humility; and because of the victory of His resurrection He invites us into that kingdom to rule with Him, a kingdom which begins here and now.

When Jesus welcomes the thief into His kingdom, He does so to each one of us; He doesn’t say keep to your old ways and we’ll work something out; He welcomes one who has, in that moment, recognized that his old ways drew him further away from God, and that he regrets and repents of those ways – he desires to be with Jesus.  Jesus doesn’t say you will come into my kingdom despite your lifestyle – He says, ‘you will come into My kingdom because you recognized the error of that lifestyle and desire only to be with Me.’

This exchange with the thief encapsulates all of Jesus teaching on how to treat each other; we are to care for and protect and provide for each other, because whenever we do it to anyone, we do it to Jesus.  We see Jesus reflected in the poor, and (hopefully) others see Jesus reflected in us.  In hoping to reflect Christ our King, perhaps we can ask ourselves ‘if’ in a more positive way;

If I share a little more of myself, could I improve someone’s life?

If I use what little influence I have on others to work for justice and peace, could I make the world a better place?

If I recognize my own brokenness, can I expect a response when I humbly ask Jesus to simply remember me when He comes into His kingdom?

 The answer to these questions of course, is ‘Yes’, with the help of Christ the King.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

One of my weaknesses is t-shirts with catchy slogans of either a religious or social justice nature:  I have one that says ‘Get Holy or die trying’, and has a list of Christian martyrs on the back.  Another one proclaims, ‘the earth is for all, not for sale.” 

There is one that I have and I’ve long admired; it says,

“Jesus is coming…..look busy”

 As long as there have been people on the face of the earth, there has been a morbid fascination with the end of time.  Every generation has in some way, considered themselves the absolute focal point, the pinnacle of human existence and history, somehow thinking that everything about nature, history, arts and sciences and the entire fate of the human race is centered on their generation.

We see it reflected in recent movies, books and television series; and there are many out there who think, “well, this is it. This is the beginning of the end!”

Remember the Mayan calendar? 

But this is really nothing new: throughout our history there have been examples, time and time again of people pointing to their generation, trying some way to twist and warp events to ‘match up’ with Sacred Scripture to point to a timetable of actual events – so much so that in their ‘wisdom’ they have pointed to exact dates and times when God would finally say, “enough is enough’ and bring the existence of the world to an end.

The passage we have read today from St. Luke’s Gospel is one of those parts of scripture that is often used as a kind of literary sign post for those who presume to ‘know’ when the world will end.  In this particular passage, Jesus is quite clear in his advice to anyone who would rush after those who claim to have such knowledge or to take them seriously,

“…many will come in my name and say, “ I am he’ and, ‘The Time is near!’ Do not go after them”

For those who somehow ‘need to know’ when the end will come, we need to ask,

“Why?”

‘What purpose would that serve at all?”

‘Would it somehow enable us to avoid the end of all things?  Would it give us a timetable to accumulate more wealth or possessions; to build up our own little empires? – what good would that do if all things end anyway?’

“ Would this knowledge somehow give us a timetable to live our lives one way, then provide ourselves with enough time to sort of ‘move over’ towards God at the last minute to somehow get closer to Him ‘just in time’?  Perhaps give us some means of bending God’s will in our favour?”

Jesus tells his disciples that the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed: the destruction of that Temple, the place where for the Jews the glory of God dwelt, would have been absolutely unthinkable.  But it did happen – in 70 A.D., about 40 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Surely to those living in Jerusalem at the time, this would have felt like the end of the world.

He tells them that there will be wars and natural disasters; that they will be persecuted and attacked for witnessing to their faith in Him.  He warns them that the world will reject them, even become violent towards them because of their faithfulness to Him.  But even in this, Jesus, who is God, does not give them a specific timetable to follow like a calendar or day planner. His message is not just for the apostles in that specific time.  It’s for all people of all times.

His point in all of this discourse is to tell them and us, that He will be with us at all times… ‘not a hair of your head will perish.  By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

He’s reminding His disciples that despite trial, tragedy, loss, persecution – in all manner of difficulties, He will be with those who follow Him.  He says explicitly, when we are tried, ‘not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.” He will not abandon His own; but He wants the disciples, and us, to understand clearly – a reality check if you will:

That part of the human condition is the struggle and grief and sorrow that are part and parcel of our fallen nature.  There are no ‘quick fixes’ to the sufferings and trials that are part of our existence.

And it’s not as if He doesn’t know what He’s talking about or preaching to us from some removed, distant, unreal place: He entered into our humanity; He experienced losses and disappointments, struggles and rejection, and He most certainly experienced pain, torment and suffering.

But throughout the ages, He has been with us; calling to us and reminding us that He has always been with us and present to us. That we don’t need to know when the ‘end’ will come, because it is not just at the ‘end’ that we will meet Him.

He is present to us now, in the poor and the lonely and the marginalized.  He is present to us when we gather as a people of prayer and praise.  He is definitely present to us in His Sacraments, particularly in the Holy Eucharist.

And because of this, we don’t need to ‘Look busy’, because we think He is going to surprise us, showing up ‘some day soon’ when we’re not ready:  He is already here; He is always with us; He is always among us.

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Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

 

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Tell me why you believe…How often have we been asked that question?

It’s been said that for those with faith, no evidence is necessary – and for those without faith, no evidence is enough.

Sometimes we can encounter people in our lives who may question our belief in God, Jesus, the Church, and will use opportunities to question us in front of others to ridicule our faith.  They may even form their contempt for God in the form of a serious question to us; some kind of clever logic-puzzle that they think will really trip us up – they don’t ask the question because they really want to learn or come to understand the Truth – they use the question as an attempt to tear down the credibility of Christ.  Sometimes it can make us very uncomfortable – even a little afraid, because to stand up and present our beliefs means putting our own credibility on the line.

Jesus is faced in today’s Gospel with such a situation.  He is given a ‘scenario’  by the Saducees of tremendous improbability – of a woman being repeatedly left a widow with no children by a series of seven brothers who subsequently each died, following the marriage laws handed down by Moses.  Their whole point is not to really know who this poor woman will be ‘stuck with’ in heaven, or to understand Jesus’ teaching of the resurrection.  Their purpose seems to be to make fun of Him, and to show the strength of their view, their position,their logic.

To appreciate Jesus’ response to their question, it’s helpful to understand who the Saducees were:

The Saducees were an upper-class group within the religious leadership of the Jews of Jesus’ time, and they based their entire understanding of their relationship with God on the first five books of the Scriptures, what we call The Pentateuch;  the books of Genesis, Exodus , Deuteronomy , Leviticus and Numbers.  They were very well educated and intently studied these books; they followed the laws governing religious observance and behaviour very strictly; and they formulated their belief that if it wasn’t specifically mentioned in these books, then it didn’t exist in their view of God.  Whatever was contained in the other books of the Scripture did not have the same bearing on the law and their religious observance.  Only these five books, that they believed Moses wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were of fundamental importance.

In their reading of these five books, the resurrection of the dead is not specifically, literally mentioned, and so as their education and logic dictated, there is no resurrection.  If we follow that to its natural conclusion, then the Saducees believed there would be no afterlife with God; Only the here and now.

Jesus on the other hand, uses their knowledge of the Scriptures and brings them to the point in Exodus where Moses encounters God in the burning bush.  When Moses asked God to provide a name that he could bring to the Israelites in captivity in Egypt, God said ‘I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”….note the use of the tense…Jesus points out to the Saducees that God did NOT  say I WAS the God of Abraham, Isaac and those who have been dead for centuries…..God speaks in the present, and includes the patriarchs in that present moment – that they are very much alive to God as you and I are.  Jesus is telling the Saducees that to put God in a box, to limit His power, and expect Him to conform to their narrow interpretation of His Word is in error – that God is very much outside of their concepts of time and space and that once past this life, his faithful ones are gathered to Him in the next life; That He is very much the God of the living in this world and the next; He is present to us here and just as present to those who have gone before us, and that is the Truth of the resurrection.

The real irony in this passage is that it is God Himself in the person of Jesus who is telling the Saducees what His Word means –This is the same God who continually speaks to us in His Word and His Church and His People, and we receive the answers to our questions when we are open to hearing them and not forming them to our own pre-conditions or personal preferences.  To trust and accept these answers takes courage.

This approach is so foreign to our modern world.  Our society increasingly tells us everything is relative; that a relationship with God isn’t that important because either He doesn’t exist; or if He exists, He just started the universe up and is sitting back somewhere letting it all play out on its own without His participation; that people follow rules for civilized behaviour only because it is convenient to do so.  This mentality denies the common good; it eventually tells us that people are to be used as things and treated according to what benefit we can gain from them – that it is all right to insult, hurt, or use people to build up our own self-worth or self-image.

This is completely opposed to the Gospel of Christ, and to the teachings of the Church.

Our response to this attitude requires us to trust in God; to put others ahead of ourselves; to seek forgiveness of those we hurt; to open ourselves to God’s grace and the Holy Spirit; open to the gift of courage.

This courage is what we all need, when we are required to speak and act in accordance with what it means to be a child of God and a follower of Jesus.

Unlike some places in the world, for most of us, we will not be called upon to sacrifice our lives for the practice of our faith.  We may, however, have to make other sacrifices – maybe in our choices of the products we purchase – the entertainment we choose – the recreational activities we take part in.  We may find ourselves in a situation where to stand up for what it means to be a Christian may have negative personal consequences for us – perhaps a decrease in our popularity in a group; diminished social status, public ridicule.

But it is the extraordinary courage to live the Gospel in ordinary circumstances that separates the disciple of Christ from a disciple of the world.  It is this same courage that leads us to place love of God and love of neighbour above all else – even where it may cost us dearly. 

Just by attending Mass, we show that courage and confirmation of our faith in God.  It is that love that we receive in so many ways from God that we come to express our gratitude for. We come to receive the nourishment of God’s Word, the nourishment of Christ’s Body and Blood – receiving God Himself; when we open ourselves to this reality, we feel His presence and that in itself tells us He is very much alive – and when we leave Mass we commit ourselves to take the living Christ out into the world with us, into whatever situations our daily lives lead us.

The Living and True God who is very much a part of our lives continues to be with us, and we can have confidence in that. God gives us the strength, Jesus provides the example, and the Holy Spirit provides the inspiration and courage we need to face the challenges to our faith in our daily lives;  we can rely on His grace to help us answer when we hear that challenge;

 Tell me why you believe… 

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Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

One of my happiest childhood memories is climbing a large apple tree we had in our back yard, and just sitting in the shelter of its branches.  You could see quite a distance across the field behind our house, and the leaves provided shade from the mid-day sun; sometimes the temptation of those apples that were just slightly less than ripe was too much, and it was easy to lose track of time.

Of course there was the inevitable call from the house to come down out of the tree and come inside – either for chores or homework; and on those times when it took a little too long to respond to that call, at some point, either Mom or Dad would be near the tree and the one-sided conversation would usually take the form of, “Are you still up in that tree?  Get down here right now!  One….two……”

There was a sense of urgency to that demand to come out of the tree, but not exactly an inviting one.

Contrast that with our passage today from St. Luke’s Gospel; the story of Zacchaeus. There is an urgency to the words of Jesus ,”Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”  And Zacchaeus complies – not out of fear, but out of joy.  He doesn’t respond to Jesus because he has to – he responds because he wants to.  Something has happened to change Zacchaeus – something wonderful in the depths of his heart.   This is a moment of conversion – or reversion if you like.

This is a story that most of us are so familiar with, but sometimes we miss some of the subtle things in St. Luke’s writing, that we could lose some of the sense of wonder in this encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus.  There might well be more of Zacchaeus’ story in our own lives than we might realize or want to admit.

It might be helpful if we look at a couple of points about this story. 

First off, the story of Zacchaeus is unique to St. Luke – it is not contained in the other three Gospels.

St. Luke tells us Zacchaeus was not just a tax collector, but a ‘chief tax collector’…..we have all heard how some Jewish men collected taxes for the occupying Romans, and that they were well-off, mainly because they extorted money from their own countrymen, often taking more than was owed.

But Zacchaeus was a ‘chief’ tax collector, which tells us that he was at the top of part of this structure in Jericho , and so would have been very rich and would have likely been the most despised of all the tax collectors in that city.

Through the eyes of ‘the locals’ he would have been ‘unclean’ or ‘ritually impure’ because his work on behalf of the Romans would have made him, in their eyes, no better than any of the pagan Romans; in fact he would have been worse because he was also betraying his people and his God.

But despite all his wealth and power and status, Zacchaeus takes the undignified pose of a grown man in long garments climbing a tree, a rather curious thing indeed:  St. Luke writes that Zacchaeus ‘wanted to see who Jesus was…”.  He didn’t just want to see Jesus as if he had already decided who Jesus was – it says ‘he wanted to see who Jesus was.” This tells us that there was already something in Zacchaeus  that all of his wealth and power could not fill, and perhaps he already had some sense that Jesus could fill that void.

And just the fact Zacchaeus is in a tree:  yes, it may have had something to do with his stature; but with his wealth and position he probably could have had his escort clear a part of the crowd so he could have a street-level view. 

He’s in a tree; that’s a safe distance to watch from, above the crowd- a safe distance from Jesus; removed from everyone else.

St. Luke’s Gospel is often referred to as the Gospel of the Poor, in which the rich are portrayed in a rather unfavourable light; 

For example, the rich young man who, when Jesus told him to give his wealth away apparently walked away sad:  or the parable of the poor man Lazarus, in which the un-named rich man dies and ends up in Hades.

In comparison to these rich men, Zacchaeus fares pretty well. 

Zaccheus, unlike these others, responds with gratitude simply because Jesus has called him by name, and has said he is coming to his house, right now.  And this is the most wondrous point of the story: Jesus is ready to meet with and stay with Zaccheus just as he is.

Jesus calls him to come out of the tree – and there is some sense of urgency in the invitation; for He is coming to his house for supper now; Jesus doesn’t send his disciples ahead to arrange a meeting and a meal with this person of wealth and local importance.  He doesn’t say, “okay, how about we get together in a few hours,” so Zaccheus can prepare something ahead of time to impress Jesus; to clean up his house and set things in order. 

He tells Zacchaeus to come down from his lofty perch, to come to the same level as everyone else, to come down ‘right now’ because He, Jesus, is here right now and ready to enter Zacchaeus’ house, his life; Jesus is offering the gift of a relationship right now to Zacchaeus.

And on some level from within himself, Zacchaeus recognizes this; not only does he immediately come down; not only does he ignore what the crowd is saying about him; but he repays their comments and criticism with charity:  He responds by offering not only to restore four times anything he has taken from others unfairly, but he also says he will give half of his wealth to the poor. 

And Jesus reminds his Jewish audience that while Zacchaeus may have strayed from his faith and people, he is still one of them, a child of Abraham, and that salvation is available to him based simply on that.  It’s a message for all of us, and a hopeful one at that, that no matter how any of us wanders or drifts away from the relationship that we are all meant for with our good and loving God, and how much we substitute for that relationship; or how much we try to distance ourselves from right relationship with each other, Jesus is always reminding us that salvation is open to each of us, simply because we are a child of God.

But there is a sense of urgency each time we encounter Jesus; we have many times in the course of each and every day to meet Jesus; we ‘see’ him as he goes by in each person we come across– in the poor, the lonely, the marginalized;  in the difficult child or the forgetful elder; in the bitter and the angry and the grieving;  and it is in each one of these encounters that He says  to each of us, come down out of that tree right now….now is the time I am coming to your house…right now;  I don’t care if things are in order;  it doesn’t matter if everything hasn’t been set in place;  I am coming to you in the midst of your busy-ness, your hectic society – in the messiness of everyday life; …I am coming to your house now; to enter into a deeper relationship with you.

And like Zacchaeus, we can respond in haste, in eagerness, in charity and in joy; because each time we recognize and respond to Jesus in those around us, most definitely, salvation has come to our house.

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Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!