Thirty Third Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Lk 19: 1-10
At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
SELF-DISCIPLINE, COURAGE AND HUMILITY: Old Eleazer in his acts proved these qualities. In our lives, we are invited to behave likewise. This is to be identified with one position; not to allow ourselves be driven by syncretism, and go away from God. Eleazer is giving a strong lesson to us not to lose our originality by following the doctrines of our ego-centred earthly masters. Most of us divert from God due to our quest for power and money. However, when we do this, we remain losers to Eternal Joy. Zacchaeus’ act of tree-climbing appears embarrassing for a high dignitary. Yet it wins him favour with Christ since he does not limit himself or allow redemption to be de-railed by stature. He lost all in order to attain salvation. Let us learn from him and not be ashamed to do what it takes to attain salvation and to meet God.
PRAYER: Lord, my God, teach me your statutes.
TAKING CARE OF ONE’S DIGNITY: God invites us to constant renewal and offers us the opportunity for it. Zacchaeus appeared to be poor but was rich in grasping the opportunity given to him to be renewed. He is ready to part with half the earnings and would give away four times what has extorted. His eyes were opened see his own dignity greater than his riches. He got the priority right here. He used to “love” his wealth and “use” people. He showed the strength of the will to reverse the process. Man is a becoming, a growing and at a continuous transcendence. Once a thinker said, “that day will be the most unfortunate day when man will not aspire to become higher, when man will not aspire to transcend himself.” When man will be confined, closed in himself, that day will be the most unfortunate day. Life is worth living when he breaks free of such confinements and walk in the direction of that beacon, Jesus. May His words, His presence stir us into an awakening!
THE ENCOUNTER: Jesus is nearing Jerusalem on the journey that he began in Lk 9. He encounters a man in Jericho. Zacchaeus has an ardent desire to see Jesus. His path is blocked by two problems: one, in the environment – the crowd; another, in his person – he is short. He finds an alternative: the tree. The commitment of Zacchaeus forces Jesus to change his time-table, though His original desire was to pass through Jericho, not to stay there. The encounter takes place symbolically in the context of a meal. Then the effect of the encounter is a conversion. Zacchaeus makes a statement that has two parts: first, “half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor” – unconditional charity; second, “if I have extorted anything from anyone, I shall repay it four times over” – justice. Justice for whom? It is interesting to note that Zacchaeus stood (19:8), and did not go on the knees like Peter (Lk 5:8) or prostrate like the sinner woman (Lk 7:38). Zaccheus also uses the word, ‘if’… So, is Zacchaeus being vindicated as a righteous man in the presence of Jesus? Is salvation being made justified by God?