31st Sunday - homily
I am preparing a couple for marriage who are friends of a friend. I recently did with them what I do for all couples in marriage prep: interview them separately by going through a questionnaire. When I got to the questions about practicing our Catholic faith with the man, he candidly revealed to me that he really struggles with the whole question of who Jesus Christ is. He said something that we normally hear from people of non-Christian religions: Jesus was a great teacher and prophet, but I don’t think that he is the Son of God.
I began to talk about the resurrection because that is the main event when it comes to knowing that Jesus is the Son of God. I used the famous quote from CS Lewis: “If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, he is a liar and a blasphemer”. When I said that, the man was clearly affected, and said, “Gee, I never thought about it like that”. The point being that Jesus said he would rise, and if I didn’t he is a liar. Also, he called God, ‘Father’; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then he is just a man and not God’s Son. This man seems to be right where he needs to be: seeking to see who Jesus is.
Zacchaeus is in the exact same point in today’s Gospel. Scripture says that this rich tax collector was “seeking to see who Jesus was”. Whatever is going on in Zacchaeus’ life, whatever led him to climb a tree to see Jesus, he is truly intrigued by the person of Christ. Hopefully, we are all that point or at least have had Zacchaeus moments where we are seeking to see who Jesus is. The question of who Jesus is one of the most important, if not the most important, questions in our lives.
The study of the person of Jesus Christ is called Christology. It is one of the most fascinating subjects. It is ultimately dealing with a mystery: Christ is one divine person with two natures. Christ is fully human and fully divine. This “hypostatic union” is a mystery – two distinct natures in one divine person. And yet, we can approach the person of Christ and gain some real insights about God an ourselves. For example, Christ reveals the Father and He reveals man.
Anyone who sees Christ sees the Father. He or she sees the Father’s love, sees the Father’s mercy in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. The Son reveals to us who the Father is and offers us everything the Father has given Him. Anyone who knows Christ knows the Father. Also, anyone who sees Christ sees themselves. In other words, when we get to know Christ, we get to know ourselves. It is in Christ that we are most ourselves. Whenever we are Christ-like – when we are kind or generous or forgiving or loving – that’s when we see who we are and what we truly desire to be. We have all been created through Christ; he gave us our hearts. Our hearts truly desire him. It’s what St Augustine once said, “our hearts are truly restless until they rest in Him”. That’s exactly what’s going on with Zacchaeus, with the young groom-to-be, and with each one of us.
My hope is to go deeper into the person of Christ with a series of reflections in Advent during Friday night Adoration. I would like to offer a few reflections on who Jesus is; we’ll advertise it the same way that we’ve advertised the concert this Friday night during Adoration: as a flyer in the bulletin.
Finally, Zacchaeus seeks Christ but Christ seeks Zacchaeus, too and enters his house. We will have the same opportunity to welcome Salvation into our houses in a few minutes with the Eucharist. Jesus will enter our hearts and bodies and souls in the Eucharist. Let us welcome Him, let us welcome Salvation as Zacchaeus did: let us welcome Him with joy.