Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last Sunday and again today, a tax collector has been the protagonist in each Gospel pericope. One might wonder why Our Lord and St. Luke, the Evangelist of this Gospel, single out the men of this profession. Luke himself was an “outsider”. Surely, he was a confidant of St. Paul, and he received his information about our Lord’s Nativity from none other than the Blessed Mother Herself, but he may very well have felt an affinity with those who were scorned by their own. Outcasts always look for someone to identify themselves with less they feel alone.
No matter how singular one may feel, we are never alone. We hear in the Book of Wisdom how: “God loathes nothing that He has made.” If then He has made it He must love it in spite of not being loved in return. If God ceased to love what He has made, it would no longer exist. So, here we are. We must have been made for a purpose and the joy of life is discovering what that purpose may be. God participates in our self-discovery by infusing us with the grace we need as we go step by step.
Something that has stayed with me since my high school graduation from West Scranton High School was the song we learned and sang at our commencement: “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Frequently, I sing it to myself, not out of nostalgia, but as a reassurance that no matter what comes, the Lord is beside me. This was especially true when I was assigned to the Arctic Circle in the winter of 1984. As a chaplain I was required to move around to different outposts to serve the Marines where they were. On one occasion I was dropped off by one unit and had to wait for another unit to pick me up. For a short time, I was standing and waiting by myself on this god-forsaken expanse of nothing but snow, so what do you think I started to sing? My old high school graduation song and since I was “alone”, at the top of my lungs! The approaching marines must have thought I went snow-mad. But I was just assuring myself that I was not alone.
Our tax collector friends knew that they were not alone in the Presence of the Living God. Zacchaeus especially found himself filled with the Presence of Christ, not only when Our Lord came to his home, but thereafter for the rest of his life. May you also know the Presence of Him as you continue to discover the purpose of your life. In the meantime, sing at the top of your lungs.