• Fr. Paul MacNeil

October 30th - No Regrets!

I've been told that it would have been very difficult to meet Jesus if we went back in time, 2000 years because he was so famous. He was always surrounded by crowds, many of whom just wanted to catch a glimpse of him and couldn't even do that. And here's Zaccheus, made famous even 2000 years later because he dared to climb a tree to see him. Imagine how he felt when Jesus looked up and pointed at him and said, "I'm coming to your place."

The tax collector in today’s gospel is much like Ebenezer Scrooge: miserly, thin, and grouchy. But what happened between the time Zaccheus took Jesus to his home and then offered to give away all of his possessions? He was a changed man. What did Jesus say to him?

  • He accepted him. He accepted him for who he was. Belonging. He felt friendship, a connection to him.

  • He Inspired him. He made him think that maybe he was right. Maybe I have been missing something in my life. This is believing..

  • He encouraged and gave him the courage to do something beautiful for God. "Look, I will take half of my possessions and give them to the poor."

Perhaps this was also a lot like Ebenezer Scrooge. He had an encounter with three ghosts, of which he was terrified. But the biggest scare for him, I think, was the realization that his time was limited. He was facing his mortality, and he was filled with regret; that would be my guess, but whatever it was, we rejoiced with him the incredible joy when he woke up Christmas morning, realizing that it was not too late to change.

Is there something in our lives that we need to change? Do we need to give more? To do more? Bonnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Here are five wishes that she records:

  • I wish I'd dared to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard. “ This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

  • I wish I'd dared to express my feelings. Why? I’ll let her explain it in her own words: "Many people suppressed their feelings to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

  • I wish that I had let myself be happier. “This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity” overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others and themselves that they were content when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

What is your greatest regret so far? and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die? Jesus is inviting you to change, not because he doesn’t accept you where you are but because he does.

Perhaps we can take another page out of St. Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

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