October is upon us! The Gospel readings for this month are filled with parables and nuggets of wisdom for us.
In one of the Gospels, Jesus tells the story of the ten lepers who are cured. Only one comes back to say, “thank you”. In our lives, which are we – the nine who took the cure for granted or, are we the one who returns to give thanks? We have a choice every day. There are so many ways that we can give back and be grateful. Look up and look around to see what is near us each day… God sends us many opportunities to show gratitude. Do we take the time to be full of gratitude? It only takes a moment to say “thank you” or give a complement.
In another of the Gospels, Jesus gives us the example of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee says that he is so glad that he is not like the rest of humanity. He extols all the good things he does – fasts, tithes, prays with his eyes cast down. As we look at this parable, who are we in it? Are we happy that we are not like the rest of humanity? Or are we in the midst of humanity – praying, but also lifting up, helping, supporting the downtrodden, the migrant, the one who has no food or shelter, our companions on the journey in our house or family? This could be with time, talent or treasure.
Another Gospel is the story of Zacchaeus, a wealthy man who came to see Jesus. He was short of stature and climbed a sycamore tree, so he could get a better view of Jesus and be above the crowd. Jesus walked by the tree, looked up and saw him. Jesus said for him to come down now and that he was coming to his house tonight. What a surprise! I think it would be safe to say that Zacchaeus did not expect this direct invitation! People nearby said Jesus was going to the house of a sinner. Zacchaeus heard them and said he was changing – he would give half of his possessions to the poor and if he had extorted from anyone, he would repay them four times over. Jesus rejoices and says that today salvation came to Zacchaeus. What does it take for change of heart to come to us? How do we hear the voice and message of Jesus? In the Rule of St. Benedict, he gives us multiple chances to make amends, to start over continuously.
As we know only too well, the signs are all around us each day. We could take the time to recognize them. What we do with them, is up to us. We can respond joyfully or not so joyfully. We can make the most of our daily opportunities… even when it is difficult.
We can make the effort to remember the big picture, not just our small portion of the world. We are a people of hope, looking to a future full of promise. We can make that choice every day.