THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle C/ Year II (October 30, 2016)
Wis 11:22-12, 2/2 Thes 1:11-2, 2/Lk 19:1-10
The gospel describes Zacchaeus as a chief tax collector and a wealthy man. It is believed that during the time of Jesus tax collectors were rich because they would corrupt by asking more money from the people than the real tax amount. Zacchaeus was far richer than the ordinary tax collectors because he was a chief tax collector. But even though he had all the things that he needed or desired in life, still he discovered that he lacked something and that his life was not complete. For this reason, when he learned that Jesus was passing by, he did his best in order to see Jesus. When Jesus saw him on a sycamore tree, He said: “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house” (Lk 19:5).
Zacchaeus obeyed Jesus. He came down the tree and received Jesus with joy in his house. This reception by Zacchaeus of Jesus in his house has become the beginning of his conversion. Zacchaeus was a sinner being corrupt and traitor to the Jews for he collected money from his countrymen to give to the Caesar of Rome. But with this acceptance by Zacchaeus of Jesus into his life has transformed him into a new person. He gave generously half of his possessions to the poor and the other half he did not intend to keep to himself but rather to pay for those whom he had cheated. His conversion was genuine because even in restitution, he even went farther than what the law demanded. He paid them four times the amount.
Like Zacchaeus, we may acquire what we desire in life but all these material things will never make us happy and complete. Man is not created for material things although we are created with material bodies. We are rather created in the image and likeness of God and that we are created for God alone. For this reason, the satisfaction of our lives is the union with God our Creator. St. Augustine explained this fact in the following words: “You have made us for Yourself Oh Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You.” Consequently, instead on focusing on material aspirations, let us long for God because only God can make our lives complete.
The good news is that Jesus is passing by. He is actually searching for us and He comes to us. He comes to us in many ways, whenever we pray, read the bible, attend the Holy Mass, listen to the gospel proclaimed and the homily, offer sacrifices, help our needy brethren, etc. Indeed, Jesus comes to us in many discreet ways and often times we are not aware of Him because we never seek Him. We need to seek Jesus the way Zacchaeus did. Zacchaeus exerted an extra effort by climbing a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. We too must exert extra effort to encounter Jesus. Indeed, we do not need to do great things to meet Jesus, just extra effort and Jesus is willing to come to us. This is because Jesus never abandons us and He always invites Himself into our lives. At this very moment, Jesus is telling us: “I must stay at your house.” Now it depends upon us whether or not, like Zacchaeus, we will also receive Him happily into our lives.