31st SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
November 3, 2013
GOSPEL READING: Zacchaeus, the Chief Tax Collector
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today."
So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."
REFLECTION: Jesus came.
There are many people who come to our lives. All of them come with a purpose. In their coming, sometimes, we prepare and sometimes, we just let things take their normal course. People come, people go. But what interest us is what they leave behind and what they take with them after when they are gone. When encounter happens between two worlds, many things change. The one is moved by the other, the other lets himself flow through the current of relationship, and their journey together begins to unfold. In our gospel reading today, Luke introduces, Jesus came, and the story of Zacchaeus into conversion began.
But many times our vision is too shortsighted. Many times, our biases precede our judgments; hence, our vision is mostly but a cloud of faulty interpretations about events in life. In our experience in daily living, usually gossips come first than the facts. Refutations come first than the real person. And so, we ask, how do we get to have a better vision? How do we benefit more from the gift of what we already have? What blurs our vision and what prevents us from doing so?
Zacchaeus got to deal with this same problem. He was seeking to see Jesus Who is to pass by, but He could not see Him because of the crowd. The tree was the instrument for him to encounter Jesus. His being short in stature made him climb that tree. It elevated him into a higher position so he could have that glimpsed he wanted. This tree is a figure of the Church where one is helped to have that experience with Jesus. Our being Christians doesn’t end in the Church, but it should lead us where we could experience Jesus.
Jesus came, and he looked up where Zacchaeus was. Jesus knew exactly where to find whom he is calling. And he calls at that time when our disposition is challenged, just like Zacchaeus who is being prevented by the crowd. Every challenge should be constructive, it is meant to build us and keep us holding to our faith. But what Jesus would like to hear, despite the pressure and the conflicts, is our response. When he heard Jesus called him, it was as swift as when he was climbing, he came down quickly. His coming down the tree expresses humility, the openness to welcome God’s invitation. And his being short humbled him, he was more limited in height but he was gifted with the grace of being called. Yes, he was short but he was there where Jesus wanted him to be.
Jesus came, and he stayed at Zacchaeus house. The gospel says it was the house of a sinner. But although it was such a house, Jesus was received with joy. We always have a space in our hearts where there is only one who can fill. It is like a void that is only fitted to welcome the Divine. God’s imperishable spirit is in all things. God rebukes offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in him. Now, even great sinners have this room in their heart intended for God. And when sinners welcome Jesus, it is conversion. In fact, it is the purpose of His coming to seek and save what was lost.
ABOUT THE SHARER:
SEM. AUSTIN JOHN ORTINERO, OP is from the Archdiocese of Caceres and a member of the Dominican Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines. He is studying at the UST Faculty of Philosophy.
Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Domfrat, Vision, Relationship, Encounter, Zacchaeus, Conversion, Grace, Joy