From the Pastor – November 3, 2013

“Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Lk 19:9-10)

I love the story of Zacchaeus. It reminds me of two things. When I was little, it reminded me a little of Mardi Gras. In the parable, it sounded like a parade was rolling by, and Zacchaeus wanted to see it! But instead of Rex, it was the King of Kings! As a young, small boy, I remember not being able to see Mardi Gras parades because of the crowd. Often, I resolved myself to looking for spare doubloons.

The second thing that the story reminds me of was a visit I made to Rome in 1994, before I entered seminary. I was fortunate to be able to attend a Papal Audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall. As the audience was ending, my sister and I moved up to the front where the people were already exiting their seats. There we noticed that the Holy Father, John Paul II, was lingering around; he hadn’t left the hall. To see better, I got up on a chair and started taking photos of the Pope. He was maybe 150 feet away, and it was very exiting. Gradually, he started walking down the rows to our area. Looking at him through the viewfinder of my camera, I was thrilled that I would be getting some amazing shots. He got closer and closer, and then all of a sudden, I realized he was standing right below me. He looked up, and I lowered my camera. The Vatican photographer neatly captured the moment in a photo I still have. It’s my “Zacchaeus photo.” Everybody else is at ground level, and I’m standing on a chair reaching down to shake the Holy Father’s hand. If you stop by the office one day, I’ll show it to you.

When I look at my “Zacchaeus photo” it still fills me with great joy. You could see on my face that I could not believe that I was shaking the hand of the Successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ on earth. But then I read the story of Zacchaeus, and I realize he had a much greater thrill. Imagine being called down from one’s perch by the Savior of the World! And imagine that He tells everyone that He’ll be dining at your home that evening!

Jesus came to save us because we are lost in this world. Although we might have the great company of family and friends, and might enjoy many moments of peace and contentment, we know that this world is not our home for eternity. We actually need to be saved from the pain and suffering of this world. And we are saved by Jesus, who came to save us. He promised us that He’d never leave us, and He is still present to us in so many ways: when we gather in His Name, when we read His Word, in the Sacraments of the Church, and most particularly in the Eucharist. Today at Mass, Jesus dines at our home. And He’s the one who feeds us. Today Salvation has come to our house!

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty