31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus Ameh
Readings: Wisdom 11:22-12:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10
Theme: Dust for Glory
Imagine the complexity of the world and all of creation. What is the source of the sun’s light? How does it generate so much heat? How did mountains come into existence? How does water come out of rocks to form streams and rivers? Imagine also the complexity of animals: how and why did God create some animals so big and others so tiny? How do some birds have wings and fly but some others have wings but cannot fly? Imagine too, the complexity of the human person, how different organs connect with each other and work in sync and how all are controlled by the brain. Yet, scripture says all of these are like a grain of sand, like a speck of dust before God.
Today’s Liturgy of the Word speak to us of the bigness of God and the smallness of man; yet, in his bigness, God is interested in and takes care of mankind (Psa 8:3-4). The first reading says God loves all things that exist, and we can add that because we were made in His image and likeness, He loves us more. It is therefore on account of this love that He forgives our faults and gives us several opportunities to repent. The first reading says about God: “…you can do all things, and you overlook men’s sins, that they may repent” (Wis 11:23). This truth about God is clearly demonstrated in the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus in the gospel reading. Even in his bigness, Jesus took notice of Zacchaeus and offered him the opportunity to change, to repent, and Zacchaeus grabbed it.
Of special interest for our reflection are the things Zacchaeus did to win the attention and mercy of God. Scripture says Zacchaeus recognized his limitation of height and made effort to catch a glimpse of Jesus by running ahead of the crowd and climbing on a tree. Secondly, he acknowledged his limitation of sinfulness and offered up his wealth as restitution for his sin in order to receive the mercy of God. By these acts, Zacchaeus showed his realization of the fact that both his very life and his riches are but dust in the sight of God; he showed too, his realization of the fact that to behold the glory of God in his life, he would have to let go of this dust; in other words, he had to trade the dust for glory.
The life and actions of Zacchaeus leaves us an example and great lessons for our Christian journey and in our search for God. Many a time, many Christians cling tightly to the blessings of God that they forget the God of the blessings; many hold on to the dust of life that they miss the glory of God; many fail to make effort to savour the sweetness of God. As much as God can easily make provisions for us, as much as God can easily grant pardon for our sins, as much as God can easily reveal His glory to us, He expects us to make some efforts, to show repentance, to trade our dust for His glory. God will not give us His glory until we give him our dust; God will not come to dine in our lives until we make the effort to invite Him. He lets us know that He is just an invitation away, but He shall not force His entry (cf. Rev. 3:20). So today, let us ponder on the big question: What will I give to behold the glory of God? Let go of your dust, and you shall see the glory of God. May God grant us the grace of true humility and repentance and the courage to detach ourselves from material possessions that distract us from beholding the glory of God. Amen