October 30, 2022 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/103022.cfm)
A man once approached an elderly priest and asked, “Father, how come it seems that God does not speak to His people anymore? He used to speak so beautifully with such power and clarity to our prophets and apostles. But why is it that God seems no longer talk to us His people? Nagtatampo ba siya sa atin? Is he isolating Himself from us?”
For a minute the priest was just in silence, shaking his head as though he was in pain. He replied in time, “My son, it is not that God no longer speaks to us His people. Hindi sya nagtatampo sa atin. He is not isolating Himself from us. It is just that… no one these days can stoop down low enough to listen to Him. No one… can stoop down…low enough… to listen to Him these days.
At times, we also find ourselves like that man sharing the same question: “Why and how come God no longer speaks to us His people?” As we go through our lives doing our daily affairs, we do feel and experience at times the silence and absence of God. Nagtutulog ba ang Dios? Is God asleep? Nagtatampo ba ang Dios? Is God sulky? Is He isolating or distancing Himself from us?
Zaccheus in our gospel today must have felt and experienced the same silence and absence of God in his life. While doing his usual work of collecting and counting money in the treasury, Zaccheus must have asked the same question about God no longer speaking to His people. He must have also wondered about the silence and absence of God in our lives.
To the extent, that when he heard that Jesus is passing by, he decided to close his office, climbed up a tree, hoping to have a glimpse of Jesus, whom he must have heard of as godly person. Actually, he doesn’t want to be involved. He only wanted to “observe” Jesus and the crowd. So, while waiting for Jesus on the tree, perhaps he must be back then thinking about his favorite topic: his work, his money collections, his usual affairs & concerns.
As he passed by the tree, Jesus saw Zaccheus and asked him to “come down and hurry for I must stay in your house today”. Somehow Zaccheus got more than what he bargained for. All he wanted was just a glimpse to observe Jesus. Now, he got an audience and a home visit from Jesus. And, what is required of him is just to come down from the tree, invite Jesus in to his house, and take part in the life and mission of Jesus.
Perhaps because, like Zaccheus, we become so concerned and comfortable about our day-to-day worldly affairs of being and striving to be always at the top of things and people. Like Zaccheus, perhaps we also don’t want to get involve and participate. We rather observe than serve the Lord and others. And like Zaccheus, we rather remain “at the top of all things” in our comfort zones, being labelled and stereotyped by others, – instead of being recognized as not only as Abraham’s descendant but more so as God’s children. So, why God no longer speaking? Perhaps it is because we are no longer stooping or kneeling down low enough to listen to Him.
The invitation of Jesus to Zaccheus: “To come down and hurry for I must stay in your house today” is a wake-up call also for us today: “to stoop down low enough to listen to Him”. For us then to experience the presence, voice, and lambing of God, instead of his absence, silence and tampo, we must learn to humbly listen to Him through His son Jesus Christ & be involve in His affairs.
This is a reminder that in life at times, we become too-far, too-high, too-much, too-numb, too-away, too-distant from God that we cannot anymore see, hear, feel, and experience Him. It is like our phones might be fully-charged but we have weak signal and out of coverage.
However, rest assured, like Jesus, God is always reaching-out to us, wanting to be in contact with us whatever happens, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost”. All we have to do & required of us is to come down from our pedestals & comfort zones, invite Jesus into our lives and eventually participate in His ever-present life & mission in our lives. In other words, Stoop Down… Low Enough… to Listen to Him.
Perhaps we may ask ourselves: “when was the last time I stoop or knelling down low enough to listen to Him?”
We learn last Sunday the most simple and very effective prayer of the tax collector: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” or simply the Jesus prayer: “Lord, have mercy”. May we also learn today from the prayer of prophet Samuel: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”.
Before Our Father, may we find ourselves listening in humility & poverty, so that God can contact-trace & reach-out to us for the better of us always.
So Be It. Kabay pa. Amen.