Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 30, 2016 - Jesus visits Zacchaeus' Home

The Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time  - Year C

Reading I:
Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Reading II: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Gospel:  Luke 19: 1-10

In our first reading today, we read words of mercy again: “You  are all powerful enough to do anything, but you are merciful to everyone; you overlook our sins and give us time to repent.” (Wisdom 11:23) “O Lord, because it is yours, you love all living things.” (Wisdom 11:26) “Your immortal spirit is in every one of them, and so you gently correct those who sin against you.” (Wisdom 12:1-2)Jesus provides for us the human face of God. His interactions with Zacchaeus reflect the sentiments attributed to God in the Book of Wisdom. He reads the heart of the tax-collector who has climbed a tree to see him. He reaches out to him by saying that he wants to stay at his house. How proud Zacchaeus must have felt to think that this popular man selected his home to visit! Being a man of wealth, he probably provided a delicious meal and was thrilled to have Jesus as his guest.

Of course, there were those who were jealous and complained that Jesus was again eating with sinners. Nonetheless, a deep connection was made between Jesus and Zacchaeus so that he had a conversion of heart. How startled the guests must have been when the tax collector stood up and said to Jesus: “Listen, sir! I will give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Jesus must have truly rejoiced over Zacchaeus’ words. His response was, “Salvation has come to this house today, for this man, also, is a descendant of Abraham. The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus gives us examples of how to reach out to the lost. There are so many ways people today are “lost.” First, we must pray that they will have open hearts. Then, it is important to enter into their world and see through their eyes in order to make a connection. This demands sacrifice and perseverance. It also, requires that we allow them to find their own way while being there for support and continuing to love them whatever choices they make.


  1. Today’s readings are filled with expressions of God’s Mercy and tender love. They are especially fitting as the Jubilee Year of Mercy draws to an end. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom states that God is merciful because He is all powerful. Mercy is not weakness, rather it is strength. Wisdom also tells us that God is a lover of souls precisely because His very own “imperishable spirit” lives in us. To me this speaks of a partnership, a divine intimacy with God, a love so deep it is almost inconceivable in a world constructed on conditional relationships.
    The Responsorial Psalm provides an example of God’s merciful love, “The Lord is gracious and merciful…and compassionate toward all his works.” In her book, Pleading, Cursing, Praising: Conversing with God through the Psalms, Sr. Irene Nowell OSB, writes that “merciful” and “compassionate” are from Hebrew relating to the word “womb.” This mercy is the love of a mother for her newborn child. She asks, “Is there any greater or more passionate love?” The Hebrew word translated “mercy” at the end of Psalm 145:9 is “hesed,” meaning “ love in the bones… love that has so permeated a person that it is part of their DNA.” This mercy is who God is. This is how deeply we are loved by our Creator.
    We are called to surrender to God’s merciful love and then to imitate it in our relationships with others. The Gospel offers Zacchaeus as an example. “The merciful love of Jesus…fills Zaccheaus with the strength of a corresponding love. Immediately he pledges to restore what was wrongly taken and to offer generous help to the poor. “
    Dearest Jesus, may your Spirit within us be awakened as we ponder your unlimited love for us and, like Zaccheaus, may we respond with kindhearted mercy to the needs of others.

  2. Sr. Therese MW, SBSOctober 27, 2016 at 1:24 PM

    Yes, the emphasis on God's mercy in the story of Zacchaeus certainly is touching and encouraging. The following excerpts are from a homily delivered by Pope Francis which is based on this Gospel:

    "Today's Gospel speaks to us of a meeting between Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus, in Jerico (cf.Lk 19:1-10). There Jesus does not simply preach or greet people; as the Evangelist tells us, he passed through the city (v.1). In other words, Jesus wants to draw near to us personally, to accompany our journey to its end, so that his life and our life can truly meet.

    'An amazing encounter then takes place, with Zacchaeus, the chief "publican" or tax collector. Zacchaeus was a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers, someone who exploited his own people, someone who, because of his ill repute, could not even approach the Master. His encounter with Jesus changed his life, just as it has But Zacchaeus had to face a number of obstacles in order to meet Jesus.

    'The first obstacle is smallness of stature. Zacchaeus couldn't see the Master because he was little. Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don't feel big enough, because we don't think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself. For faith tells us that we are "children of God"... (1 Jn 3:1). We have been created in God's own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy forever with God!

    'That is our real "stature", our spiritual identity: we are God's beloved children, always. No one is insignificant. He loves us all with a special love. For him, all of us are important.

    'Zacchaeus faced a second obstacle in meeting Jesus: the paralysis of shame. We can imagine what was going on in his heart before he climbed that sycamore. It must have been quite a struggle - on one hand, a healthy curiosity and desire to know Jesus; on the other, the risk of appearing completely ridiculous. Zacchaeus was a public figure, a man of power. He knew that in trying to climb that tree, he would have become a laughing stock to all. Yet he mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful... Don't be ashamed to to bring everything to the Lord in confession, especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins. He will surprise you with his forgiveness and his peace.

    'There was a third obstacle that Zacchaeus had to face. It was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticized him:
    People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly father "makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good." (Mt 5:45) He demands of us real courage, the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies.

    'Finally, let us listen to the words that Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, which seem to be meant for us today: "Come down, for I must stay at your house today." (v5). Jesus extends the same invitation to you.
    In asking to come to your house, Jesus calls you, as he did Zacchaeus, by name. ... Your name is precious to him. The name "Zacchaeus" would have made the the people back then think of the remembrance of God. Trust the memory of God: his memory is not a "hard disk" that "saves" and "archives" all our data, but a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in "erasing" in us every trace of evil. May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received."

    Pope Francis