Reflection 3rd November 2019

A Reflection for the Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Lk: 19: 1-10  ( ) 

In my work as a hospice chaplain I meet many people who are so grateful for the loving kindness and compassionate care received. 

Hospice care is holistic and available to all residents. However, as the Christian values and ethos of the religious sisters fade in our more secular society, it is in danger of fast being replaced by a business model concerned only with profit-making. 

I recently met a group of chaplains working with prisoners who were on probation. The chaplains’ focus is to be a loving and supportive presence in the lives of people who have committed serious crime, in an effort to help them transform their lives.  Those who return to crime and prison are, sadly, far more in number that those whose lives are transformed.

Our reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us that God loves all that exists, and that God’s spirit is in all things. We do not always recognise this in the way that we treat both each other and our environment. Sometimes, accumulating wealth gets in the way or greed distracts us.  Our Psalm tells us that the Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. 

Zacchaeus was despised as a chief tax collector who collected more that he was due.  Despite his wealth, he was still searching for something to satisfy the void in his heart. He recognised something in Jesus that stirred his curiosity. He went to great lengths to see him and his life was changed forever by the love that he experienced and not the judgement of the crowd.  He found something more valuable than material wealth and he realized the need for him to make amends. 

Recognising and taking responsibility for the pain and hurt that we can inflict on others is essential to bring healing and reconciliation to our lives, our families, our communities, our Church and our environment. Sometimes that involves sacrificing some of our material riches and challenging the injustices in business and political systems. We must take responsibility for the way that we treat every part of God’s creation.    

Liz Coyle - A parishioner of Holy Spirit Parish in Kimmage Manor, Liz is a Spiritan Associate and is currently Chaplain at Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, Dublin.