The 31st Sunday of the Year Wis 11:22 – 12:2; 2 Thes 1:11-22; Lk 19:1-10 (year c)

The Book of Wisdom approaches the conclusion of the Jubilee Year with an unparalleled meditation on the Father’s mercy. “You are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent. You love all that exists, and you spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable spirit is in all.”

The God of the Old Testament is frequently caricatured as a vengeful God. Here the Creator is described as the God of love, whose love formed us and brought us into being. Even when we have sinned, the Creator’s imperishable spirit persists in our hearts, calling us to repentance. Such love cannot deny the repentant sinner.

In Jesus, these earlier reflections on mercy became an event that changed lives. We see this in the encounter of Jesus with Zacchaeus at Jericho. Zacchaeus was an outcast, a senior tax collector who had grown rich at the expense of his fellow citizens. He was doubly condemned as a traitor and profiteer.

His conversion began with curiosity rather than an immediate and profound repentance. He had been anxious simply to see what kind of man Jesus was. Being short of stature, he had climbed a tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus from a distance. His was a tiny step towards Jesus, but it was enough to attract God’s mercy.

“Zacchaeus, come down,” said Jesus. “Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.” We frequently exact a great deal more from our transgressors.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection