A Fig Needs To Be Pinched to Be Sweet

Dear Friends,

The Zacchaeus climbed up a sycamore tree to see Christ. These trees are easy to climb because their branches are low to the ground. Christ didn’t call him, “Hey fatso,” or any kind of derogatory name; he didn’t call him a thief. He called him by his name; he pinched him.  A fig needs to be pinched to be ripened.  And this sign of love changed Zacchaeus. A bitter man became sweet because Christ pinched him with a little bit of charity. And he gave half his possessions away and repaid those he had swindled four-fold. Sometimes we also need that pinch of charity, of affection, or correction, at times, and this makes us sweet.

The Eucharist always sends us out to do a mission. The final prayer in Latin was: ite missa est, or go and announce the gospel, which means go out, and fulfill your mission. What is our mission? It is to love the other, to forgive the enemy, to pardon. The Eucharist is like a practice session, a gymnasium where we can hear about this love in the Word and see it in the actions of Christ: his body is torn apart, his blood is poured out for us. This can help us to love, to forgive to a suffer an injustice with a smile.

A Christian should always go out two by two. Even when you go to your spouse, you never go alone; you can go with Christ.  When you speak to your kids you go two by two, with Christ, not by yourself. When you see your friend in the office go two by two, always with Christ.

The disciples went out only with one thing, a walking stick.  What does this mean?  They go out with their cross. They go with their sufferings and announce how Christ made them sweet. We need to do the same. When we go with Christ, our difficulties don’t go away, but they become light, different, bearable. Christ carries them.  This is what people need to hear.  This gives them hope.

There was a priest who before he was ordained was in a crisis because he didn’t think he could be the type of priest that he thought he had to be. But then God showed him that because of his sins, because of his weaknesses, he could be the type of priest that could help many people, who could understand many people. He didn’t have to be the perfect one. He calls us as we are, with our sins, with our manias, and this is what helps people.

We are invited to announce Christ, to announce what the church teaches. Not what we think but what Christ taught. This is the mission of every Christian. This is why we need the Eucharist every week, and even more often. This is what gives us strength and what brings people peace.

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