“O Lord and Lover of Souls”
31st Sunday Ordinary Time
(For additional Homilies and articles, please visit Deacon Jeff’s website, www.JoyoftheWord.org)
I. A short Gospel, about a Short Man, read by a short Deacon, and Hopefully….a Short Homily
II. Today’s readings speak to us of an essential truth of our spiritual lives….
a. That God Loves us FIRST, and then we respond
b. It is a Love that shows mercy, and forgiveness
c. God’s Love is pure, it is Grace, it is unearned and undeserved.
d. It is not without correction, not without discipline
e. God, Lover of Souls, showers us first with his Love.
III. In this month of Remembrance, I am thinking of my Aunt Pat, who passed to the Lord nearly two years ago
a. One of Aunt Pat’s many crafts was creating miniature doll houses and rooms
b. One of her last projects was to create—in miniature – the exact replica of her mother’s kitchen from when she was child
James Tissot (1836-1902), Zacchaeus in the Sycamore Awaiting the Passage of Jesus, Brooklyn Museum
c. The Kitchen – picture it with me……
i. Oven from the 1950’s
ii. Same wallpaper, floor, tile above the sink
iii. Curtains, flour and sugar containers
iv. Looking for a box radio to match her mother’s
v. Nothing “just good enough”, nothing to fill in a missing piece, all of it exactly as her mother had it.
d. Why such exacting detail?
i. This was the kitchen she grew up in
ii. Where she did her homework
iii. Where her mother taught her to cook
iv. Where her big sister brought home her finace
v. Where her big brother opened his draft notice for the Korean War
vi. The kitchen where the celebrated funerals, weddings, homecomings, and celebrations
vii. The kitchen that was full of love and memories
viii. Love and memories Aunt Pat wanted to share with her family
ix. If it wasn’t exactly right, if it didn’t measure up, or didn’t belong, it simply wasn’t included
x. If it was there in Aunt Pat’s miniature kitchen, it was because it had been lovingly chosen and places there with care.
IV. In exactly the same way, if you are here, if you are alive, if you celebrating this liturgy, it is because God has loved you into being, and continues loving you from this instant to the next.
Listen again to the words from the Book of Wisdom:
a. “For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls.”
V. In today’s Gospel, we see the Lord, the Lover of Souls, put these words into action.
a. We have Jesus, a crowd of followers, and one seeker
b. The seeker, Zacchaeus, not just a despised tax collector, but the chief of despised tax collectors!
c. Others are happy to follow along with the crowd
d. Zacchaeus is longing for more, he needs to see Jesus
e. He climbs a tree to see Jesus, and Jesus upon seeing him, reacts with the unearned, undeserved Love we read about in Wisdom
f. The Lover of Souls does not see a sinner, but a masterpiece of God’s creation
g. Over the grumbling of the crowd, Jesus orders Zacchaeus to come down quickly, for I must stay at your house.
h. In other words, Jesus is moving in!
i. He is coming to enter under his roof, moving into his home, to stay in his life, and never leave
j. Zacchaeus is overwhelmed by this unearned, undeserved Love, and responds to Love with joy
k. Joy that moves him to repent, and to respond in Love
VI. This is a familiar Gospel, and so easy to let these words wash over an by us
a. But take a moment to pray over this Gospel, and let the waters of truth sink deep in.
b. God LOVE YOU first
i. You are here because God Loves you into being, and lovingly holds you in the palm of His hand
ii. He will not let destruction or corruption come to you, whom he has created and willed into being
iii. You don’t have to earn it, you can’t merit it
iv. You need only to respond to Love with Love
VII. This Gospel should come with a warning!
a. If you truly let this message seep into your soul, like Zacchaeus, your life will be changed forever.
b. Young Peter John Sheen of El Paso, Illinois, felt the Lover of Souls freely enter into his life, and responded with all his heart
c. To Christ, in daily prayer before the Eucharist, and to millions of others, through radio and television,
d. Changing his life to the Venerable, and soon to be Blessed, Fulton J. Sheen
VIII. A young Mohawk native American girl felt the Lover of Souls enter into her life through the preaching and care of Jesuit missionaries.
a. Moved to respond in love, she was baptized Katherine, and spent her remaining years rejected by her family and people.
b. With forgiveness and love, she took vows of a religious and offered sacrifice and prayers for her people, and inspired Native Americans to the faith.
c. Changing her life to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks.
IX. And our own Katharine Drexel
a. Who knew the Lover of Souls was present in her home and life from her earliest days
b. Whose desire to share the Lover of Souls with the neglected and marginalized African and Native Americans
c. Changes her life in unimaginable ways
d. As this wealthy, attractive young woman
e. Founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
f. Changing her life to be Saint Katharine Drexel.
X. Recognizing that the Lover of Souls is indeed in our house, and in our lives, is DANGEROUS…
a. For it can radically change your life in ways unimaginable.
b. To recognize God’s Love for you, is to recognize God is the Lover of all souls.
c. Remember the crowd in the Gospel?
d. The very person they despised most, Zacchaeus, Chief Tax Collector, was the very person Jesus called by name.
e. I don’t have to tell you, we live in divisive times, and we all belong to one crowd or another.
f. Unfortunately, being part of a crowd today often includes following one while despising another.
g. Ask yourself, who does the crowd you belong to despise?
h. Can you picture or name that person?
i. Yet the Lover of Souls loves that very person, and calls to you to show mercy and love them too.
XI. Like Aunt Pat’s beloved Kitchen, where everything that exists is there because she had lovingly chosen it
XII. So too you, and me, and all our neighbors are here, and have life, because the Lover of Souls Loves us into being, and holds us there moment to moment.
XIII. In this very Mass, the Lover of Souls will call to you in the Eucharist, and say, “Run to me quickly, for today I must stay in your house!”
a. Our response? O Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word . . .”
b. But are we truly prepared to say yes? Are we overjoyed like Zacchaeus to let the Lover of Souls under our roof, into our home, and into our lives?
c. For the Lover of Souls intends to stay, and wants to radically change the way you live and love forever.