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October 30, 2022 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 30, 2022

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Barry had a life sentence in prison for doing unthinkable crimes. He would often remark to the chaplain that he was an atheist and could not bring himself to believe in any “god.” When the chaplain asked why, Barry quickly retorted that the book of Genesis speaks of God creating everything and feeling very good about it. God’s creation of people and things is beautiful. Barry continued, “If there is a God who creates something and likes what He makes and that God is good, then how could He have created someone as evil as me?” The chaplain fell silent as tears welled up in his eyes. “God loves you too, Barry. The stuff that you did is another matter. God puts His image and likeness in each one of us, in our souls. How can God not love himself?” God cannot despise or hate anything or anyone. He made you. Life hurt you. He is always about unconditional love and mercy. Barry found a glimmer of hope that day and was touched by love.

Zacchaeus met love incarnate in Jesus. He knew there was something special about him, and he had to see Jesus for himself. Realizing and knowing God’s unconditional, penetrating love is a game-changer. Sinners don’t repulse Jesus, he wants to eat with them! We can often find ourselves conflicted about how God sees us. We want to believe that He loves us, but other tapes playing in our heads convince us that this cannot be true. We carry our sins around like heavy sacks weighing on our shoulders. We are crippled.

God’s divine blessing lives in each of our souls. It is our essential goodness, a free gift given to us by God.  The beginnings of salvation’s blessings are discovered when we begin to understand who God is, who we are, and how we are to act relative to our brothers and sisters. We become more focused and courageous, eager to gather up all of the fragments of our lives and become whole. Zacchaeus, after meeting Jesus, finally knew who he was. He saw his sins and his potential for goodness as a blest child of God. When we allow God to meet us and touch us in such a profound way, we find what our selfishness has lost. We are on the road to salvation.