“THE SON OF MAN CAME TO SEEK AND SAVE THE LOST” (Luke 19:10)
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Wisdom 11:22-12:2; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13cd-14 (R.v.1); 2 Thess 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10
“THE SON OF MAN CAME TO SEEK AND SAVE THE LOST (Luke 19:10)
Today, the Liturgy presents us, among other things, the story of Zacchaeus in the Gospel. That story is indeed the story of each of us, depending on the nature of our embrace of the love of God for us. The First Reading reminds us that God is the lover of souls and would overlook the sins of people in order to give them room for change. This attitude is what we observed today in Jesus relationship with Zacchaeus. But more than just presenting God’s benevolent love to us, we are equally shown how people receive this love.
Before looking at the way other people receive or resent this love, let us first look at the character of Zacchaeus and how most of us fit into that character. Zacchaeus was a rich man, short in height and, may be, short-sighted too. He heard that Jesus was passing and wanted to see him. He climbed the tree to achieve his aim. When Jesus offered to dine in his house, he received Jesus with so much joy and promised a complete turn-around.
Zacchaeus was living comfortably the desire of every man. But he needed more than the comfortability which he already had. Something was lacking in him. That is, probably, why the Gospel of St. Luke described him as a short man. The adjective short describes deficiency in something. That shows that even in his comfortability, he still lacked something. The good thing however is that he realised his lack and worked hard to have it filled.
Many of us, if not most of us, make that realisation also but not many of us would make great effort like Zacchaeus to have the lack filled. Some who make serious effort always have the crowd to contest with. This crowd may not necessarily be persons as appears to be the case in the story of Zacchaeus. The crowd could come in forms of money, clothing, meeting, family responsibility and so on. Many of us are of the knowledge that it is a necessity for us to come for the sacrifice of the Holy Mass on Sunday, yet, when it is our market day, “Hmmm, Jesus can wait; He will surely pass this way some other time!
Moving away from Zacchaeus and the crowd for a moment, let us recall that the Pharisees and the Scribes were not happy with Jesus for eating with the tax collectors. How did they get to the house of Zacchaeus? It only informs us that they were also the constituents of the crowd that were trying to block Zacchaeus view while Christ was passing his. Those things that formulate our crowd do not love us as much as Christ loves us. We must be weary of them.
Note also that there were many tax collectors present at the feast that Zacchaeus had prepared for Jesus. A similar account recorded in the Call of Levi (Luke 5:27-32) gives us an insight into what could have happened. The Greek verb ακολοuθεο (akoloutheo) – to follow – which Jesus used in calling Levi is mostly used in its plural form, indicating that the call is not meant for one person alone but for all. The word of Jesus is so powerful that when he calls one person, many follow. We must be part of that many that follow him.
Following Jesus implies a complete turn-around μεθανοια (metanoia) – that is, total change of heart. Zacchaeus understood this, and not only embraced it but went steps ahead in thinking also of practicing the virtue of charity which is an essential part of our Christian calling.
Every Christian, called to this followership must stand firm in faith and in his resolve to follow Christ. That is the call St. Paul made to the Thessalonians in the Second Reading of today. It is important for them, just as it is for us today, so that the coming of Christ would not be an accident for us.
Jesus is ever ready to accept us irrespective of how badly we have lived our lives. He does not mind how the world looks down on us and condemn us. His interest instead is in seeking out and saving the lost. However, he can only into our homes, if we accept his offer of being with and purifying us.
May the desire to see and be with him ever grow in our hearts so that we may be ever ready to welcome him into our homes. Amen.
It is well with you.