33rd Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Rev 3:1-6, 14-22
I, John, heard the Lord saying to me: “To the angel of the Church in Sardis, write this: “‘The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says this: “I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you. However, you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy. “‘The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels. “‘Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” “To the angel of the Church in Laodicea, write this: “‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. “‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne. “‘Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
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.”
CONVERTED TO FOLLOW CHRIST: Today’s gospel speaks about Zacchaeus the tax collector from Jericho. He would have known that Jesus was calling people for conversion and be asked to sell the property and give to the poor, he might have not gone. Then, why did he want to see Jesus? He climbed the tree to draw the attention of Jesus. When Jesus’ commanded him to “hurry and come down” from the tree he obeyed. Jesus only asked for hospitality in his house but as a sign of his further conversion he declared to give back fourfold to the ones he cheated and to share half of his wealth with the poor. He stood ostracised by the people but Jesus declared him as a son of Abraham. Do we see others as children of Abraham? How do we express our conversion? We pray for the conversion of ourselves and the society.
Prayer: Lord God, fill us with your spirit that we my minister to all.
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.
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?