31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Simham)
One Page Summary by Fr. Tony Kadavil
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the benevolent, compassionate and forgiving mercy of God for sinners and the response of repentance and conversion expected from us.
Scripture lessons summarized:
The first reading reminds us that God’s Almighty Power includes His strength to be merciful. That is why God, who created the universe mercifully, waits for sinners to repent. God continues to love us, even when we do not love Him in return. The reading focuses on the love God has for all He has created, the love that overlooks sin so that we all have time for repentance. God shows us His redemptive love through His mercy.
In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145), the Psalmist also tells us that the Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all that He has made. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness (Ps. 148:8).
In the second reading, St. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to persevere in their Christian Faith, giving glory to God, without idly waiting for the “second coming” of Christ in their lifetime. He advises them to continue to live a good Christian life every day, allowing God to work in their lives so that they may be worthy of their vocation as Christians.
Today’s Gospel presents the story of the instantaneous conversion of the tax-collector, Zacchaeus. God’s grace led him to a moment of conversion. The account describes how Jesus recognized Zacchaeus for exactly what he was, a lost sinner in need of a Savior, and how God’s grace worked in Zacchaeus to lead him from idle curiosity to repentance, conversion and restitution. The episode emphasizes the fact that such a conversion can only result from a person’s fully receiving the love, acceptance and grace offered to everyone one by a merciful Lord.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept the Divine invitation for repentance. We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus is inviting each one of us to total conversion today. Let us remember that Jesus loves us in spite of our ugly thoughts, broken promises, sullied ideals, lack of prayer and Faith, resentments and lusts. Hence, let us admit our sinfulness and accept God’s call to repentance, conversionand renewal of life.
2) Let us love others as Jesus loved Zacchaeus, despite his sins. Parents and teachers need to accept children lovingly, without first setting up standards of behaviour as conditions for being loved. Husband and wife may have qualities that irritate each other. But they should not withhold love from each other. Nor should they withhold their love from a rebellious teenager making stupid and even dangerous choices because of immaturity and peer-pressure.
3) We are called to generosity: Jesus wants us to move from our small and feeble Faith to a greater and more powerful Faith, just as Zacchaeus did. He also wants us to be financially and spiritually generous.
Fr. Showreelu Simham