Readings for the day:
Wisdom 11: 22-12:2
Psalm 145: 1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13cd-14 (R cf1)
Thessalonians 1: 11-2:2
Luke 19: 1-10
The bishop is on a pastoral visit to a parish. Hundreds of parishioners turn out to receive him. Among the crowds pushing and shoving to catch a glimpse of the august visitors is a man whom the bishop recognises as an old acquaintance. The bishop goes over to him and gives him a big hug and says, “O! boy! I am going to stay at your house tonight”. Fine! Trouble is the man is what you might call a lapsed or fallen catholic, and the bishop knows it. He has three wives, hardly ever goes to church. Although he is very rich, nobody seems to know the source of his wealth. Rumour has it that he is either an armed robber, a drug baron or a practitioner of “advanced fee fraud”. The bishop knows all that, and yet he goes to stay with a man like that. How can the bishop do such a thing, a whole Bishop of the holy roman catholic church?
That was the kind of question the jews asked when jesus went to stay at the house of zacchaeus. In those days, tax collectors were bad people, sinners. As a senior tax collector, zacchaeus was doubly bad. No self-respecting or descent jew would associate with a man like him. And yet jesus went to stay at his house. How could he do such a thing, a holy man, a rabbi, even a prophet like him? Jesus gave them the answer: “The son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost”. Zacchaeus was one of the lost that jesus has come into this world to save.
This story illustrates the kind of risk that God is prepared to take in order to save a single soul. God is prepared to run the risk of “scandalizing” a whole lot of “good” people in order to save a single soul that has gone astray. Each soul, including that of a sinner, is that precious, that valuable to him.
The church of christ can do more or less than God himself. The church too should stop at nothing in her effort to save a single soul that has gone astray. If in the process of her doing that, some “good” members of the church are offended or scandalised, it is just too bad. The church cannot let go of an erring soul simply because some of her members think she should. If she did that, she would no longer be the church of the son of man, who came to seek out and save what was lost. It is not surprising that one of the sacraments Jesus left his church is meant precisely to seek out and save what was lost: “Receive the Holy spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them…” (John 20: 22-23).
Culled from the reflection of saints peter and paul catholic church, somolu, lagos parish bulletin.
Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.