Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

One of the disadvantages of social media is that it turns us all into spectators, onlookers, and bystanders. It’s very easy to pass judgement by posting something on Facebook or Instagram or tweet something we know very little about. Suppose you are a nature lover.  You don’t have to get your shoes dirty, nor let the rain fall on you; you don’t have to leave your own sitting room, nor even move from the fireside. Social media and television provide you with a feast of sights and sounds. There is no risk, no pain, no trouble, and no responsibility. Yet what a poor substitute this is for the real thing. There are people who claim to love nature, who seldom, if ever, have walked in the woods, across the fields, or along the shore. In other words, they are mere spectators. They are not really involved. To be involved is to give a part of oneself to it. However, there is at least this to be said about the spectator, he or she is interested. And where there is interest, there is the possibility of real involvement. We have a similar situation with Zacchaeus in our gospel story today. At the start of the story, he was a mere spectator. He was just an onlooker. He didn’t join the crowd. He climbed up among the branches of a sycamore tree. But what happened? Jesus saw him and invited him to become a participant. Suddenly Zacchaeus was whisked from the sideline right into the centre of the action. He was like a spectator who goes to a match, and suddenly the manager spots him, throws him a set of gear and says: ‘You’re on!’ And he finds himself playing. It is a commonplace of the Bible that God rejoices in our cooperation. He wants to involve us—through freedom, intelligence, creativity in what he is doing. “Francis, rebuild my Church”, God could have rebuilt his Church, but he wanted St. Francis to get involved. God could have renewed the spiritual life of Christianity through a great infusion of grace, but he inspired St. Anthony to leave everything behind and go live alone in the desert. We are presently facing a challenging time in our church today and God is inviting all of us to get involved. When it comes to involvement in our Church and in our community maybe we are only spectators. We are so lucky in our Parish to have so many dedicated people who volunteer in the ministries of our Church, but we all need to ask ourselves the question; Am I only a spectator? Am I just a passive onlooker, avoiding risk, commitment, and responsibility? Jesus challenged Zacchaeus and he responded positively and joyfully. It changed his life. All of us to a greater or lesser degree need this kind of conversion. We go from here today challenged by Jesus to reflect on our participation and commitment to our Church and community. What will your response be?