31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

     The other day I was talking with some friends who remarked that it seems like Halloween is dying out. They were lamenting that they didn’t have many trick or treaters visit them this year. Clearly, they have never been to Florissant before because I have never seen Halloween like they do it up here. On Halloween night I took a little adventure down Jefferson street to see what it is all about and I have to admit I have never seen anything like.

     While I was impressed by how many trick or treaters were packed in the street, I also began to realize how old I am actually getting as I saw costume after costume go by and I had to admit to myself I didn’t recognize most of the costumes. If I was being honest, I think I would have had to ask about 2/3 of them who they were but I didn’t have the humility to show my age so I just let it go. But I think it’s a fair question for each and every one of us. Who are you?

     How you answer that question ultimately frames how you live your life. You see, if we never stop to ask who we are and who we are meant to be we end up just wandering through this life aimlessly. I’m sure if I went around this church and asked you who you are, I would get all kinds of different answers, but I hope if I pushed a little bit, maybe a little bit harder we would eventually all acknowledge that we are sons and daughters of God who are destined to become saints.

     Yes, each and every one of us is called to be a saint. That’s the goal, that’s the end game. I think sometimes when we hear that we get a little put off by sainthood and we don’t actively pursue it because when we think of saints we often think of the great martyrs who died as a witness to the faith, or those who did all kinds of miracles, or we think of those holy monks or nuns who locked themselves away in convents. Those are all great saints, but there are countless other saints in the kingdom of heaven just like you and I, who lived their lives day in and day out, faithfully following Christ.

     Sometimes I think we are afraid of becoming a saint because we have a notion of sainthood that we think is impossible to attain. But let’s get it straight, that is why we are on this earth. There is no other reason for our existence here than to know love and serve God in this life and be happy with him forever in the next.[1] The Good News is that Jesus has done the hard work. Jesus has come into the world to save us. There is no reason why anyone of us gathered here today in this church cannot become saints. I think we have to remember that.

     If you look at the lives of the saints, you begin to realize they weren’t really these great super heroes we sometimes make them out to be. No, they were a lot like you and I. They had their strengths and weakness. Every saint was at one point a sinner, however they became saints because at one point in their life they came to realize the purpose of life was to become a saint and they strove to achieve sainthood with their whole being. For you see “our first step to sanctity is realizing that nothing in life is worth so much as our becoming saints.”[2]

     Becoming a saint doesn’t mean that we have to shut overserves off in a monastery for the rest of our lives or necessarily live as a priest or religious sister. To become a saint, we need to follow the example of Zacchaeus, who was willing to literally go out on a limb to catch a glimpse of Jesus and then take a leap of faith and welcome Him into his home. You see, just as Jesus invited Himself into Zacchaeus home, He is knocking at the door of our hearts asking us to let Him in.

     If we are going to be saints, we have to have the honesty and humility of Zacchaeus. We must admit that apart from God, our souls are lost. We have to admit that we are sinners and that’s good because Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that He has come to save those who are lost. That is you and that is me.  Since it is God who justifies us — we can never succeed in our own self-delusion that we can never change. If we want to have that change in our life we have to go out on the limb and we have to invite Jesus into our hearts to change what needs to be changed. For you see just as he was able to change Zacchaeus’ life, he can change ours. Zaccheaus found holiness simply by responding to God’s invitation.

     God’s life changing love is here for us in a way that infinite, in a way that can radically transform our lives. Ultimately then how do we answer that question “who am I” “what is my destiny” If we want our lives changed all we have to do is come down off the tree and invite Jesus into our hearts. Jesus already knows who you are and He is looking for you. In just a few moments, we will come down the aisle and receiving Him physically in our bodies through Holy Communion. Will you have the humility to accept Him, to welcome Him in, to allow Him to transform you into a saint. Will you then, like Zacchaeus be willing to abandon anything that may keep you apart from Jesus?

     Jesus wants to meet you here today; He doesn’t want you to simply come here to fulfill a Sunday obligation. No He wants to meet you here and stay with you for the rest of the week. The choice is simple, will we come down from our tree and invite Jesus into our hearts and then allow Him to stay with us for the rest of the week? Do we have the humility to recognize our call to be a saint? Do we have the humility to welcome Jesus in so that He can raise us up to Him?

 

[1] Baltimore Catechism Question 1.

[2] Albert Joseph Mary Shamon. Three Steps to Sanctity. Oak Lawn: CMJ Marian Publishers and Distributers (1993) pg. 1

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