|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scouts for Christ
Universities and Colleges have a practice known as “scouting,” in which they identify and recruit young players who have the potential to be great college players. Once they have identified the right people, they lure them in with all sorts of promises. Some even go so far as to offer not only sports scholarships, but also full tuition, room and board. They will often do whatever it takes to get these young people to attend their college and play on their side. Some people, who think they should be scouted, often complain, saying that they are better players and they don’t understand why the others were selected. Not all the players are excellent at the time they are scouted, but they have the potential to become great players. Scouts look for potential, the potential to become great.
Jesus, in today’s gospel, scouts a new Christian named Zacchaeus. Others quickly grumble that they are better “players” than Zacchaeus, but Jesus sees his potential and scouts him to be a Christian. Jesus does whatever it takes to get him to join his team and invites himself over to his house for dinner. “Salvation has come to this house,” he says.
The reality is that Christ scouts every one of us. Christ is God’s scout, and he tries to get everyone to come and “play” for God. He believes we all have the potential and calls each of us by name to come and follow him. Like a college scout, he will do what it takes to lure us and convince us that we need to be on his team. Sometimes we listen, and sometimes we don’t. Other times we complain about the other people he has scouted! As the first reading from Book of Wisdom says today, we were all created by God, the lover of souls. He never abandons us but always seeks us out. He knows we can be so much more than we often settle for.
So first and foremost, we are called to allow ourselves to be scouted by Christ, to dine with Christ each and every Sunday. No matter how “short in stature” we think we are, no matter how sinful we believe we are, no matter how unworthy we perceive ourselves, we are all called to come and follow him. He believes we all have the potential to be that disciple. He will do whatever it takes to get us to follow him, but there will be no false promises and no free rides!
Once we have accepted that challenge for ourselves, we are then called to be scouts for Christ. We are called, in turn, to invite others to follow Christ. We are called to look beyond the surface of people’s lives, to see beyond their often crusty exterior, and to see the real potential of them becoming true Christian disciples.