Wis 11:22-12:2; 2 Thes 1:11-2:2; Lk 19:1-10
The readings today remind of who Jesus is. He is the Son of Man who has come into the world to seek us and to save us. We are the lost whom He seeks to save. In the first reading it says that God “rebuke[s] offenders little by little, warn[s] them and remind[s] them of the sins they are committing that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in [Him].” This rebuke is accomplished daily through our consciences.
One of the most important things that parents are responsible for teaching their children is knowing right from wrong. Our consciences are formed at a very young age. This is why the Church acknowledges the “age of reason” at 7 years. By this time, a child should know right from wrong, which is why children may receive the eucharist at this tender age after a period of sacramental catechesis. They can understand the need for confession and that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Somehow, as we get older, this understanding unfortunately falls away for most Catholics.
This is where the first reading today comes into play. God rebukes us little by little, warns us and reminds us of the sins that we are committing in order that we may abandon our wickedness and believe in Him. God does this for us every single day. Why was this so easy to understand as a child as young as 7 but seems so foreign to us as an adult? The Lord knows us more intimately than we know ourselves, which is why He gave us the sacrament of mercy: Reconciliation. We confess our sins to a priest because he has been given apostolic authority to absolve us from the sins that we confess. That cannot happen without him. We cannot do it alone, through prayer, or by any other means. Get to confession as soon as you can. If it’s been a while, or a long time, make an appointment. You will be surprised at how you’ll be received, how relieved you’ll be afterward, how the enormous weight is lifted off of you. Please, don’t delay. It’s the only way to reconcile with God.
Paul reminds us in the second reading that we should not be surprised when Jesus returns. We’ve heard this over and over in so much of scripture. We believed that as a child, why wouldn’t we believe it as adults? God does not change. He is the same today as he was in ancient times and will be in the future. His commandments do not change. They tell each one of us who is to come first in our lives and how to treat others. Jesus sums up all ten commandments by telling us to love God first with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That is a summary of all ten. Our Heavenly Father detailed it for us and Jesus bottom lined it for us. Paul reminds us not to be shaken or surprised when the day of the Lord is at hand. Be prepared for that day. The very best way to prepare is to reconcile with God. Go to confession as soon as you can.
The Gospel reading today underscores both of these messages. Zacchaeus puts in quite the effort to see Jesus. He doesn’t push and shove his way to the front; he climbs a tree to separate himself from the crowd. Jesus sees him immediately and calls him by name. In their one-on-one conversation Zacchaeus confesses his sins, makes his act of contrition through reparations, and Jesus tells Zacchaeus that salvation has come to his house. This is an excellent example of the sacrament of reconciliation. This is exactly what happens every single time. Please, go and seek the mercy of the One who loves you more than you love yourself. He is calling. Will you answer?
Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP