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Homilies/Reflections

THE HURRY OF ZACCHAEUS. A Reflection for the 31st Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Year C.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Fri, 01 Nov 2019

Readings: Wis 11:22-12:2; 2Thess 1:11-2:2; Lk 19:1-10 

We know that listening to the word of God, which we solemnly proclaim in prayer and worship, makes God present afresh to us. Today’s Gospel is, therefore, a great reminder of Jesus’ presence among us who gather in his name. The encounter of Jesus with Zacchaeus should be no less transforming for us today as it was centuries ago. What will you take and make your own from today’s encounter?

From today's Gospel consider God’s “divine grace,” which renews, transforms and reinstates us. Consider also the assurance of Jesus Christ which is so revelatory to us here and now as it effectivel was in yesteryears to the people who physicall met Jesus. We must find conviction in the truth that God acts with care for us and not against us. That, knowing how human it is to err, God’s patience readily yet gently welcomes everyone, and anyone who thinks better of life, turns away from corruption, graft or sin and ruturns to God for mercy. All of these are present in the echo of what we just heard from Jesus: “…this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”

Recall last Sunday’s parable on the prayer-meeting of two people in the temple. Surely, it is not lost on us how distastefully vivid the pharisee made the tax collector to appear. Tax collectors and some of today’s politicians are thrown up to the neck with those commonly judged as “greedy, dishonest and adulterous” (Lk 18:11). We already know the disapproval which greeted Jesus’ friendship with tax collectors. And I must emphasize that Jesus’ friendship was relentless with “tax collector and sinners” (Mt 11:19). Now, here we are with Jesus and Zacchaeus – the senior tax manager of Jericho, who had other tax collectors working under his charge.

Zacchaeus had always known his bad name before the crowd, yet in his heart, Jesus was different, and so, he meant to try. He longed to see Jesus but could not figure out how. Then he climbed the tree to see Jesus. We cannot deny the Gospel truth that Zacchaeus never climbed the tree just for curiosity. It was not for the entertainment of the people that the rich man made the undignified choice of climbing a tree along the public streets of Jericho. The man’s soul was restless in its longing to go back to God. And, at this point, we all are one with Zacchaeus. What does Jesus do to our ‘Zacchaeus’? Jesus proves God’s compassion true, for he says: “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must eat in your house” (Lk 19:5).

Will you accept the hurry of Zacchaeus? Are you going to consider the risk of goodness which the Lord Jesus takes afresh even now? It is not about the sins of those we judge, nor is it about our vengeful conclusions, which often questions God for being merciful. Far more important is this: That Jesus is still passing this way; and that we must hurry like Zacchaeus, taking the opportunity now that we are here, alive and well: Now that God offers grace and mercy afresh in Christ.

God’s generosity gives the sinner a space to make amends. “You overlook sins because of repentance, and hold nothing of what you made in abhorrence,” is what Wisdom reveals to us. Our singing in today’s psalm, giving praise to God day after day, will amount to little or nothing if it only means folding our hands and mooching heaven for Maranatha! But we must hurry and make our intentions and prayers worthy before God through practical actions of repentance and reconciliation as this is the ‘worthiness of our vocation’ echoed by St Paul in today’s second reading.

Again, true repentance and reconciliation must work to make amends for the hurts and injustices we inflicted on others. Then we will all have a new beginning.

 

 

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