Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, Nov. 3rd, 2019

 

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

 

Readings for Sunday click here

Wisdom 1: 22 – 12:2

2 Thessalonians 1: 11-22

Luke 19: 1-10

         Perhaps you found the Gospel today a little amusing, but I also hope that you will find it quite encouraging. It is about Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector – a principal IRS man for the Roman government. Zacchaeus was very wealthy and a lot of people disliked him because of his profession. He was also short in stature.

         Zacchaeus had a lot of things in life, but he still felt that something very important was missing. So he set out to meet Jesus.

         Zacchaeus took considerable risks in doing this. Because he was a tax collector, he would probably be bullied by the townspeople. And because he was short, he would have trouble seeing Jesus because of the crowd. So he went down the road and climbed up a sycamore tree and hung out on a limb to see Jesus when He came by.

         Now if Zacchaeus could have seen himself on video, he might have agreed that he looked like a monkey up in that tree. But up a tree and out on a limb, he looked down and saw something – Someone – that changed his life. He looked down and saw Jesus.

         Richard Crashaw [1613-1649], the son of a Puritan minister, was a 17th century British poet who later became a Catholic. He wrote this poem about Mary holding the Baby Jesus in her lap:

         “’Tis heaven, ‘tis heaven I see.

         The God of heaven here lies.”

         She could see heaven, and never lift up her eyes.

         The new Guest to her eyesight was given.

         ‘Twas once, look up! ‘Tis now, look down

         to heaven.

Now, I have reason for quoting this poem. When we think of salvation, a lot of us might imagine that it is some apocalyptic, cataclysmic event still to come.

But salvation has already happened. God sent His only Son down from heaven to be born in Bethlehem, to live among us, to suffer and die and rise from the dead so that we could live with Him forever in heaven.

This great event – it has already happened. Today, during this Mass, look down – heaven comes down upon this altar. When you receive Holy Communion, look down – you hold heaven in your hands. We might make Richard Crashaw’s poem our own:

         “’Tis heaven, ‘tis heaven we see.

         The God of heaven here lies.”

         We could see heaven, and never lift up our eyes.

         The new Guest to our eyesight was given.

         ‘Twas once, look up! ‘Tis now, look down

         to heaven.

         Zacchaeus was up in that tree. He looked down and saw Jesus. And Jesus looked up at him and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay in your house.” And Jesus says the same thing to us: “Today I must stay in your house.”

         There is a word that we don’t commonly use anymore, although it is still in Webster’s Dictionary. It comes from the Old English to the Middle English, and then it sort of stops right there. The word is housel – “house” with an “L” at the end. It can be used as a noun which means “the Eucharist.” It can be used as a verb which means “to administer or receive the Eucharist.” “Housel” – to receive Jesus in the Eucharist into the house of our hearts, to take Jesus with us back to where we live, with all that awaits us there upon our return.

If you feel today like you are up a tree and out on a limb, listen to Jesus tell you, as he told Zacchaeus, “Come down quickly, for today I must stay in your house.”

He will help us do what He has asked us to do. It might be a deed of justice or mercy. It might be a kind word to someone who is weary or a helping hand to someone who has stumbled.

“Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus says. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” He has come down to us.

“’Tis heaven, ‘tis heaven we see.

         The God of heaven here lies.”

         We could see heaven, and never lift up our eyes.

         The new Guest to our eyesight was given.

         ‘Twas once, look up! ‘Tis now, look down

         to heaven.