Archbishop's Homilies 2010

Gospel of Sunday 31 October

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 31 OCTOBER 2010 AT 11 AM

INTRODUCTION

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The touching Gospel story of Zaccheus responding to the Lord’s invitation to visit his house is a reminder that for each of us God invites us in unexpected ways to welcome him into our hearts and our lives. 

In the words of the Opening Prayer, only with his help can we offer him fitting service and praise.  This is because we are called to serve and see him in others.

As we call to mind our sins, let us ask the Lord that the gift of service and ready response to the possibilities he creates will be ours.

HOMILY

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Mass gives us the surprise of God’s initiative entering human lives and inviting a response.  We all know the story of Zaccheus who climbed a sycamore tree and went out on a limb to get a better view of Jesus as he passed by.  It is true to say that he went out on a limb to find Jesus and found himself embraced by forgiveness and the promise of salvation.

For me the remarkable thing about Zaccheus is that he heard something about Jesus that stirred in him a desire to meet him.  When he met Jesus he was forgiven and given a promise of salvation.  All of the readings today build up that theme.  God is merciful to us because he can do all things.  He overlooks our sins so that we can repent.  He loves everything that exists and spares all things because God is a lover of life.

Indeed, the Alleluia Verse is ‘God loved the world so much he gave us his only Son, that all who believe in him might have eternal life’.  All we have to do is to believe and then entrust our lives to Christ.  Then wonderful things will happen.

In the Gospel story Zaccheus indicated that he had led a just life and was determined to make an honest contribution by repaying anything that he may have taken.  Because of his repentance Our Lord said, “Today salvation has come to this house.

We come into the presence of God every time we come for Mass.  We are conscious of our own failings and weakness.  We are conscious of the things that we have left undone.  Yet if we are truly honest with God we know that he will reach down and bring grace and change into our lives.  We remember elsewhere Our Lord’s own words:  “There is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine men who have no need of repentance.”

So today’s Gospel is again a message of tremendous hope.  The forgiveness of the sinner, the ability to achieve when we had given up, the grace of Christ which will sustain us at every moment of the life we celebrate.  May this hope sustain us at every moment of our lives and make us new as followers of Jesus who loves us.

+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.