In all three readings today, I find a common theme to be trust and acceptance, hospitality and love. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks to us of God loving all things he created. In the second reading, we hear of Saint Paul pleading to the Thessalonians to remain faithful to God until Jesus comes again. And finally we hear of Jesus choosing to stay with Zacchaeus in his home.
As I read the first reading my first thought was: “God don’t make no junk”. I apologize for the terrible grammar, but I’m quoting as that’s how it was said to me once. One of my favourite lines is “For you would not have made anything if you had hated it”. God loves us as we are, sins and all! This reading reminds us “you overlooks our sins, so that we may repent,” and “Therefore you correct little by little, those who trespass”. We’re all fallible, we all make mistakes. God wants us to trust that he made us as we are so that we will reflect and learn from our sins and that we will be free of malice and fully trust in him.
The second reading really reinforces the need to trust in God. When Paul pleads to the Thessalonians he says: “we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter”. This reading speaks to my being human and imperfect. I don’t know about you but thinking back, I know I’ve had moments where I was shaken, I doubted His plan and sometimes even His love for me. Prayer and community often rectify those moments for me. One of my favourite worship songs says: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Saviour.” I always find His presence in my heart and in others when I pray.
Looking at today’s Gospel, I’m taking away a message of hospitality and unconditional love. Let’s look at Zacchaeus and Jesus. Jesus calls on Zacchaeus to be hospitable and accepts him. Zacchaeus is so moved by this honour that he instantly repents for his sins by saying that he’ll take care of the poor and taking care of those he may have defrauded by giving them four times what they’re owed. Their behaviour is so different from societal expectation that the crowd grumbles in horror. This very act didn’t make Jesus popular. In fact, he was blamed for going to the house of someone like Zacchaeus but isn’t it often like that? We want God to look down upon those we look down on? The only time Jesus looks down on us is from his cross – to raise us up to the heights of love and humanity we are made for.
These three readings have caused me to ask myself these questions: how have I mirrored our Father’s love and forgiveness? Have I acted in care of the poor? Am I seeking justice in any wrongdoing I’ve caused? Am I hospitable to those in need? In moments of weakness and doubt, will I remember to trust in Him? How will my actions bring salvation to my house? From her on, I’m going to strive to be more like Jesus, so I can rise to the heights of love for which I was created and that starts with trust and acceptance, hospitality and love.