A HOMILY FOR THE THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “C” – 11/3/19 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
As some of you already know, when I was in high school and college, I used to play the trumpet. And I was in a couple of different bands and music groups. I’m not a very musical person. And I can’t sing a note, as you guys know. But I always loved the trumpet. My Uncle was a professional trumpeter. It is a very powerful instrument, whether it’s being played in a football stadium, or as part of the brass section in a K.C. and Sunshine Band song. Aw come on, everybody likes a little K.C. and the Sunshine Band! Actually, here at St. Maria Goretti, we’ve got several trumpeters, or ex-trumpeters, in the Parish. We should have a heck of a brass section.
Anyways, I mention this trumpet thing to you today, because actually one of my favorite stories from the Bible, happened at Jericho, and involved trumpets. In chapter six of the Book of Joshua, the Israelites take the city of Jericho in the opening battle of the Israelite occupation of the Promised Land. And they did it, in the most unusual way. It wasn’t swords, or bows and arrows, or even sling shots. You see, the Hebrew army gave a battle trumpet to every soldier. Now, normally, these battle trumpets were only used by the squad leaders. But this time, every soldier had one. At night, the soldiers started marching around the city, blowing their trumpets. The people of Jericho were so terrified that they surrendered without a fight. And the walls came tumbling down. It’s an amazing story!
Then today, in our Gospel, Jesus heads back to the town of Jericho. And once again, something really amazing takes place! The Gospel makes it clear that Jesus had intended to pass through the city. But as Jesus goes through the streets, He looks up and sees another of Jericho’s walls that’s about to come tumbling down. He sees Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus is a hard man. He is like a wall. He’s not listening to God’s call, if God used a trumpet. You see, Zacchaeus is a tax collector. He is a liar, a traitor to his people, and a thief! He is very wealthy, but much of what he has he has stolen. Zacchaeus is not a popular person in good old Jericho. Nobody ever went to Zacchaeus house for anything! Plus, if all that isn’t bad enough, Zacchaeus has another big problem, which is actually a little problem. Zacchaeus is short. He is vertically-challenged. Zacchaeus is so short… Zacchaeus is so short… Here’s where you say, How short was he? Come on, stay with me, people! Zacchaeus was so short that just to see Jesus that day, he had to climb a sycamore tree! Can you imagine what that must of looked like to Jesus, as He was passing by down below in the street? Here was this short, wealthy man, clinging to a branch up over the street. And Jesus knew, He knew, that Zacchaeus needed God in his life. And so Jesus called Zacchaeus. He went to his house for dinner. And so this time, it wasn’t trumpets that brought the walls down in Jericho in the street under the sycamore tree, this time it was Jesus’s love and His call, that changed Zacchaeus forever. He would never be the same.
Jesus had sought out Zacchaeus. Jesus had broken down the walls of sin and greed that had surrounded Zacchaeus, and Zacchaeus had surrendered to Jesus’ trumpet call to become a disciple. Jesus tells him that “Today salvation has come to this house.”
The same Jesus wants to do the same for each one of us. How many times do we feel like Zacchaeus? Not tall enough. Not smart enough. Not good enough. Maybe we don’t like our jobs. And there is Jesus loving us, calling us, truly wanting to change our lives! We call this call, this invitation to discipleship, our vocation. And this coming week, is our Vocational Awareness Week. We all have a vocation. Jesus wants all of us to go to work for Him. And at the same time, this week, we pray for more holy priests, and holy deacons, and holy sisters and holy brothers, as we desperately need them for our Church. Nobody needs to be perfect. Look what Jesus did with Zacchaeus! But we do all have to take that step out in faith. Maybe we need to climb a sycamore tree. Maybe we need to blow our trumpet. Maybe we need to raise our hand or our voice and say, “Hey, I’d like to learn more about this serving God thing.” But whenever we do whatever we need to do, Salvation awaits us! And a life that we can only begin to imagine before we take that step in Faith!
May God break down all the walls that we build up, so that we can truly hear His call!
+ And may God bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!