A Reflection on the Readings for the 31st Sunday in OT
First Reading: Wis 11:22-12:2
Responsorial Psalm:Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
Second Reading: 2 Thes 1:11-2:2
Gospel: Lk 19:1-10
If I were given a choice to win a million-dollar lottery jackpot or never lose anything again, I would choose the lottery. But I know that I would hesitate. It drives me up the wall when I lose or misplace something: an earbud, shoes, an earring, or a sock. I’ve held onto an unmatched sock for years, patiently biding my time until its counterpart makes its triumphant return. I can count on one hand the times that this magical sock reunion has actually happened.
The experience of losing something is significant and truly impacts us. For some reason, it just doesn’t feel right, and your world just doesn’t feel the same. I can still remember how distressed I was as a child when I could not find one of my ruby red slippers from a Dorothy Wizard of Oz costume. And just recently, I lost my passport. My passport search began with me looking in the place where it was supposed to be, naturally. I’ll call this Stage 1. Then Stage 2: asking my husband if he knew where it was. When he told me he didn’t know, that’s when the fear started to grow, and Stage 3 became inevitable: The Search. This stage starts off with a cavalier and calm attitude as if it is perfectly logical to find the passport at the bottom of a nearby stack of papers that hasn’t been touched since 2014. Then comes Stage 4: the Panic Search. At this point, everything is searched – no room or drawer is safe. During this stage, I feel like Popeye after gulping down a can of spinach, and nothing can distract me from looking under every couch cushion, stripping every bed, and dumping any-and-all toy boxes (you never know). I’m pretty certain I could lift a car at this point. This stage is obviously the longest. And when all energy is exhausted, and victory has not been attained, Stage 5 rears its ugly head: Acceptance & Action. I have to accept that it is not humanly possible to expend any more energy in finding my passport, and I have to decide what to do next. I could do nothing and miss out on a fun trip or replace it (which I eventually did).
The nice thing about losing things is that it is just a thing and replaceable (or maybe you didn’t need it in the first place). But even though it was a thing that was lost, I’m still somehow emotionally affected by the loss. I think most, if not every human being, can relate to this. There is a saint who was so devoted to the child Jesus that he was granted the grace to actually hold him in his arms as a favor from God. However, most people know St. Anthony as the saint who will help them find a lost item. (By the way, I highly recommend this – you can altogether avoid Stages 3 through 5 above)
In today’s Gospel, what strikes me most is Jesus’ words to Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector. After Zacchaeus exclaims to Jesus that he will give his possessions to the poor and repay his extortions, Jesus tells him that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10. To seek us. To save us. As passionately as I can feel when seeking a lost passport, I like to ponder how much, much more Jesus’ passion for seeking us is. And how deep his love must go to have saved us.
We were indeed lost, lost from our relationship with God through sin. And yet, He did not accept that we remain lost or replace us. Because of His love for us, He came down from Heaven, became man, showed us the way, and died for us. He defeated death for us. Rose again for us—all to save and restore our relationship with our Father.
My prayer for myself and you this week is to seek Jesus in the ones around us with the same energy one might use to search for any lost item in the Panic Search stage and love them with the gentleness of the cavalier and calm beginning of Stage 1.
Author: Katy Cabrera