The message from the readings on the 31st Sunday in Ordinary time is no doubt the patient mercy of God and that He invites all to turn from sin and to His loving embrace.
In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear how great and grand God is and how small we are compared to Him. Yet the scripture says, “You have mercy on all, because you can do all things and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.” Mercy is undeserved forgiveness. Our awesome God, creator of the universe, offers us this mercy. And He is overwhelmingly patient with us as the scripture says, “Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing.”
In the Gospel we hear the well known story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who was seeking to see who this Jesus whom he must have heard about. Tax collectors were hated by the Jews because they were considered traitors and thieves. And Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector! He was short in stature so he climbed a sycamore tree to get a look at this one who was changing people’s lives. When he responded to Jesus’ call to come down the scripture said, “He received him with joy.” Zacchaeus experienced the mercy of God that day and Jesus said about him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
As disciples of Christ we too must respond and accept the mercy of God and salvation every day of our lives. Like Zacchaeus we too are sinners who God patiently waits for to respond. And in turn we must spread the good news to the world about this mercy that is being offered.
The last line of the Gospel sums up this Sunday’s message, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” That is us, our families and the whole world.