Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Homily on Zacchaeus

This weekend I am in Queensbury and Lake George, New York.  Here's the homily on Zacchaeus which I plan to preach.

When God looks down, Wisdom tells us, the whole universe is as a single grain.” and yet this “LORD and lover of souls” always loves the littlest and most imperishable of things.

Like when the Lord passes through Jericho. There would have been a synagogue there, with wise and admirable men. He could have gone to their houses and talked about the scriptures until late in the night. There would have been plenty of holy women who might have reminded him of his friends Martha and Mary and he could have chosen to go to their houses. There were plenty of folks standing around whom he could have chosen to dine with.

But of all the people in Jericho, he chooses the chief Tax Collector, a short, fat little guy who is sitting above Jesus as he walks by in Sycamore Tree so he could get a glimpse of Jesus. Somehow Jesus knew his name. “Zacchaeus,” he cries out, “come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”

Reminds me of the time that the Prophet Samuel was sent by God to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint a new King for Israel. Perhaps you remember the story. After they had prayed and offered sacrifice, Jesse presented his sons to the prophet.

First there was Eliab, oldest and tallest and strongest and most handsome of them all. But the Lord whispered to Samuel, “Don’t look at his appearance or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart.”

So then Jesse brought out his son Abinadab. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” And so with Shammah and seven more of Jesse’s sons, none of whom proved suitable.

At a complete loss, Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons, to which the frustrated Patriarch replied: I have just the youngest, who is out tending the sheep, but who would ever choose a kid you can barely trust with a flock of sheep to be King of Israel?

You guessed it, God would. And when David arrived from the field he was anointed by Samuel and the spirit of the Lord was upon him and he became the most famous King in the history of the world.

God has a habit of choosing the weak and making them strong to accomplish great things for him. Like the scared little Virgin whose first words to the Angel are “How can this be?” Or the fisherman who betrayed him three times in a row upon whom he built his Church. Or the seminarian who kept failing his Latin exams before he became the Cure of Ars. Or the little Albanian nun who became the Mother of Calcutta and of the world.

Its just like the way he chooses Annunciation Parish or Sacred Heart Parish way up there at the foot of the Adirondacks. A lot of bigger parishes, richer parishes, more famous parishes. God could choose Saint Pater’s in Rome or Saint Patrick’s in New York. He could choose the likes of a Fulton Sheehan or a John Paul II. But today he chooses you and Father Busch to proclaim the Gospel in this place at this time to these people. No one else, just you to evangelize Queensbury and Lake George and all the people in them.

And its sorta like the way he chooses you, and you and you to bring life to his Church. He could have chosen someone better looking, or with more money or more time. Someone with the communication skills of a TV anchor or the writing skills of a Pulitzer Prize winner or the knowledge of a PhD. in Religious Studies to speak for him in this time and this place. But he didn’t

No, he chose the short fat guy sitting in the tree. Hey you! “come down here quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”

And how will you answer?