Nov 3 2019 Reflection
Sunday 3 November 2019
First Reading: WIS 11:22-12:2
I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
Second Reading: 2 THES 1:11-2:2
Gospel Reading: LK 19:1-10
Today’s Note: Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
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 salvation has come to this house. (Luke 19:9)
Today’s Gospel paints a vivid picture of Zacchaeus the tax collector—wealthy, despised, and also very short—trying unsuccessfully to see through a crowd. He climbs a tree just to get a look at Jesus. It must have been an astonishing and amusing sight to see such a prominent person doing something so silly. You can just imagine the grin on Jesus’ face as he looks up and sees Zacchaeus’ irrepressible, childlike enthusiasm. Then that enthusiasm turns to joy when Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house. Inspired by Jesus’ warm words of acceptance, Zacchaeus promises to give half of his wealth to the poor and more than repay the people he has extorted.
So did Zacchaeus follow up on this bold promise? We’ll never know since he is not mentioned again.
After Jesus moved on, the hard work would have begun for Zacchaeus. If he gave away his money, he would have to learn how to live with less. He would have to fight the temptation to return to his dishonest methods of collecting taxes. He would have to earn the trust and friendship of his fellow townsfolk. Surely all of this was less fun than that initial life-altering encounter with Jesus. He may have had trouble maintaining his enthusiasm.
It’s okay to not always feel excited about life as a follower of Jesus. Our faith journey can be like a long, successful marriage that starts out with the magic and passion of an early romance and develops into something calmer but deeper and more meaningful. There’s no getting around the fact that our relationship with Jesus requires hard work sometimes. But it’s good to know that he is always with us, ready to give us the grace we need.
Our attempts to follow Jesus don’t have to be big, splashy gestures like Zacchaeus’ initial response. Change will be gradual, and there will be setbacks, but with Jesus’ help, our efforts will bear fruit.
“Jesus, help me to follow you with childlike trust.”