Few things hold us back more than our excuses for not praying, not attending Mass, and not following Christ’s teachings. All the while, we miss out on what God has to offer us. The story of Zacchaeus has much to teach us about all the blessings that can come our way once we put our excuses aside and take a risk for Jesus.
As Jesus teaches in Sunday’s Gospel, humility, or radical self-honesty, is a necessary component of our faith. Admitting our faults is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength given to us by God. It is precisely this depth of self-knowledge that can begin to open us up to a deeper knowledge of Him.
Many scholars have commented that evil is simply the absence of good. In this sense, even the worst evil that manifests our world has no claim on us if our hearts are set on God, who is all goodness. The only thing required of us is faith and persistence in prayer, relying solely on the power of God.
By belonging to Jesus, we are no longer in the shackles of sin but are free to love in an authentic way. But because of our pride and selfishness, this isn’t always easy. That’s why we have the Body of Christ. By belonging to one another, we become instruments of grace for each other and share testimony to the value of a relationship with Jesus.
There is so much unsettling emotions, unhappiness, disagreement, and anger in our world, nation, and even our Church. Humanity has caused its own mess, and we often pound on the doors of heaven expecting God to fix it all. But if we take up the task of discipleship, our faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.
Memorials and commemorations of saints remind us that holiness isn’t limited to one way of life, gender, or time period. The call to live out a vocation of service to God isn’t only for those who have been canonized or beatified. The Communion of Saints includes each of us, and we all have a part to play in the mission of the Church.
Even small sins can have a corrupting influence on our souls. But we can fundamentally redirect our course by committing ourselves to making good choices every day. The little gestures we can perform don’t require much time or effort, but when done with love, St. Therese of Lisieux assures us that they become great in the eyes of God.
Life lessons are often learned in a moment of desperation. But how often do we take the time to reflect on the spiritual realities that were shown to us precisely through that circumstance? Can we find joy and new grace from God after a time of anguish? One of the paradoxes of Christian faith is that when we are lost, we can be found.
True discipleship is not easy or nice. It is a call to live a life of contradiction, always ready to let go so we can receive. Life with Christ is beautiful and radical, but it’s not won without detachment. We have to be ready to give up what is of this earth, so that we are free to be open to what is of God.
God calls us to a humility where we understand that who we are and what we have is a blessing from Him. For the poor, crippled, and blind, humility is a natural byproduct of their position in life, so God favors them. Those who have been given more — and find themselves with greater status because of it — must cultivate even greater humility.
We are often distracted by our lesser desires and find ourselves off track and restless. But a person who lives a truly disciplined life is always able to put their wants and impulses in check and to do what is necessary to achieve the greater goal of union with God. This can only be accomplished by developing a habit of strong, centered, and focused prayer.
This week’s readings are leading us to consider the demands and consequences of an enacted faith. Because, at the end of the day, our call to discipleship requires more than simply learning the stories of Jesus and being able to parrot back his teachings. Rather, Divine Wisdom calls us to live what we profess, guided by our faith convictions.