Saturday, November 03, 2007
31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - C
Before the Lord the whole universe is as a grain from a balance or a
drop of morning dew come down upon the earth. But you have mercy on
all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people's sins
that they may repent. For you love all things that are and loathe
nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have
fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be
preserved, had it not been called forth by you? But you spare all
things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls, for your
imperishable spirit is in all things! Therefore you rebuke offenders
little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are
committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you,
2 THESSALONIANS 1:11-2:2
Brothers and sisters: We always pray for you, that our God may make
you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every
good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord
Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the
grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ. We ask you, brothers and
sisters, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our
assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or
to be alarmed either by a "spirit," or by an oral statement, or by a
letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at
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 all 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."
Today's gospel reading reveals to us God's attitude towards the sinner
and the social outcast. We see Jesus entering Jericho and passing
through it. So many times in the Gospel, we see him passing by or
through a place. If he is not stopped, he will keep going. Similarly,
Jesus constantly passes through our lives. He comes every day in one
form or another. Do we recognize him in people, in events? To be
really ready we have to be prepared to meet him in any experience.
Next we are told that there was a man in the city called Zacchaeus. He
was a chief tax collector and very rich. Describing Zacchaeus as a
chief tax collector said just one thing to everyone: he was a
detestable person. Zacchaeus is introduced into the story because he
wanted to see who Jesus was.
Was it just curiosity towards a person about whom he had heard so many
stories? Or was there a deeper reason? We do not know. It is a good
example of someone who comes looking for something only to discover
something altogether more wonderful.
We are also told that Zacchaeus was small in stature and, because of
the crowd blocking his vision, he could not see Jesus. So, in spite of
being a rich and important man, he did not hesitate to climb a tree to
get a better look. There is a message here for us. Very often we are
not able to see Jesus in our lives because we are crowded out by other
people and the way they think. To see Jesus clearly, we often have to
get away from the crowd and risk being different, risk losing our
The word "holy" in Greek actually means someone who is different,
someone set apart. Imagine Zacchaeus' surprise when Jesus looked up
and said: "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your
house today." What wonderful words for Zacchaeus to hear. How
wonderful when Jesus says them to us. Yet at every Eucharist he makes
his invitation at communion. But at many other times also, Jesus
wishes to enter into our lives.
The Book of Revelation has Jesus say in a beautiful image: "I stand at
the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I
will come into his house and eat with him and he will eat with me".
Are our doors always open and ready to offer Jesus hospitality?
Zacchaeus has no hesitation. He climbs down quickly, delighted to
welcome Jesus into his house. The reaction of the crowd, however, is
something else. They are deeply shocked and scandalized. They say:
"He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Of all the
people in Jericho, Jesus picks the house of possibly the most
obnoxious and detested person in the town.
It is not the first time this charge was made about Jesus. On another
occasion the Pharisees said, "He mixes with sinners and tax collectors
and even eats with them." Of course, they do not understand Jesus'
point of view. There was no need for Jesus to go to the houses of the
good. It was those who were far from God that Jesus went looking for.
In Jesus' own words: "People who are well do not need a doctor but
only those who are sick. I have not come to call the respectable
people but the outcasts."
The remarks of the crowd are seen to be those of self-righteous people
and hypocrites who put themselves on a higher moral plane than others.
To be honest, this is something that many of us have been guilty of at
one time or another. Zacchaeus stood there and said to Jesus: "Look,
half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have
defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much."
This implies that Zacchaeus, because of his encounter with Jesus, has
undergone a radical conversion. He will give up his corrupt ways. He
will share his wealth with the poor and will make restitution to those
whom he has cheated. In other words, although he is a tax collector
and apparently rich, he is, in fact, a good man at heart. Jesus
recognized that when he invited himself into Zacchaeus's house. The
crowd, however, judged Zacchaeus simply by his profession. He is a tax
collector, therefore he is an evil and corrupt man. And he was treated
as an outcast not to be approached by any decent person.
Here we have a perfect example of stereotyping and of judging people's
holiness by their external observance of religious ritual. But Jesus
always sees beyond the external to the potential inside. He sees a
unique individual and not just a stereotype. So often we are blinded
by the stereotype of a person's profession, or race, or religion and
fail to see the unique individual inside? We look down with disdain on
a single mother, a recovering alcoholic, a homosexual. Perhaps, for
all we know, these people are striving far more to serve the Lord than
we do. Jesus has the last word today. He says: "Today salvation,
wholeness, has come to this house, because Zacchaeus is a son of
Abraham." 'Son of Abraham' was a title for a good-living Jew and
sometimes applied to Christians in the early Church. The sign of this
is that Zacchaeus has received Jesus joyfully into his home. Something
we are called to do every day.
The gospel ends with these words: "For the Son of Man came to seek out
and to save the lost". The lost include those regarded as sinners and
those who are marginalized by so-called respectable society. They are
the people to whom we Christians, as disciples of Jesus, are also
expected to pay special attention. We need to be particularly careful
about pre-judging people, about slotting them into stereotyped
compartments. Stereotypes do not really exist. Only unique individuals
with unique needs exist. Jesus saw, not a tax collector, but the
unique person, Zacchaeus. Every person has the right to be treated
with respect and dignity, no matter who they are or what they are
like. To do this, like Zacchaeus, we may have to climb away from the
crowd to get a closer look at the people around us. If we see the
people around us as God sees them, then salvation will come to our
house and will come to theirs also.
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
... for the strength, healing and speedy recovery of:
- Erlinda Bonoan
- Lydia and Marina
- Damaso Guevara, Eligia Fernando, Sr. Belen Latorre, DC
- Epifania Ylaya
- Tom Diokno
... for the personal intentions of: Julie and Trinna
... for San Juan de Dios Hospital
... Good health: Guevarra Family
... In Thanksgiving: Boy Revatoris
... Birthday: Hanna KC B. Olermo
... for the eternal repose of the souls of Roberto D. Tuazon. Eternal
rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they
and all the dearly departed rest in peace.
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Carlos L. Galarrita
- In Memoriam (+): Choa Thian Siu (Jan 21, 1913 - Nov 14, 1983)
... for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers
and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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