NOVEMBER 16. Ord Time B. Wk 33. Tue. Lk 19. 1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance: he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: ‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. ‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’ they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.’
Zacchaeus was a small man and as a result he was unable to see Jesus because of the crowd! When it comes to “seeing” Jesus, we should all consider ourselves small and unable to see him because of all the obstacles stemming from the world and its secular values.
There is a lesson here in that Zacchaeus took steps in order to overcome the obstacles to a clear vision of the Son of God; - he ran ahead, and climbed a tree! Jesus was aware of his efforts to know him better; - and he acknowledged those efforts by coming to his house!!
He was rewarded, even though he was a tax collector, wealthy, and seen by those around him as a “sinner”. What we are seeing in this reading, yet again, is Jesus has no regard at all for how we are viewed by those around us; - what he is attracted to is the desires in our hearts!
Clearly, Zacchaeus had a strong desire to get to know Jesus; - and that was all that was needed in order to receive a response; - as it indicated a desire to love God and to do his will; - and Jesus had no other requirements for his potential disciples.
“Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully!” But immediately Jesus was criticised for giving this invitation, because others saw him as a sinner; - and here Zacchaeus gives us yet another lesson.
He did not argue with this assessment of the crowd; - in fact he accepted it and acknowledged its truth; - something many of us are not inclined to do; - to accept we are sinners, and not worthy of Christ’s friendship; -
“Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount!” In saying this he was making a public confession of his sins; - and it should be noted how Jesus responded; -
“Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost!”
What we have here, in Christ’s response, is how he sees all who acknowledge their sins, and make efforts to amend their lives; - it is a response that indicates firstly his great love for sinners an also a genuine desire to show mercy to them; - a lesson we all need to heed and respond to?
Gospel Acclamation 1Jn4:10
God first loved us
and sent his Son to take away our sins.
First reading 2 Maccabees 6:18-31
'I will make a good death, eagerly and generously, for the holy laws'
Eleazar, one of the foremost teachers of the Law, a man already advanced in years and of most noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth wide to swallow pig’s flesh. But he, resolving to die with honour rather than to live disgraced, went to the block of his own accord, spitting the stuff out, the plain duty of anyone with the courage to reject what it is not lawful to taste, even from a natural tenderness for his own life. Those in charge of the impious banquet, because of their long-standing friendship with him, took him aside and privately urged him to have meat brought of a kind he could properly use, prepared by himself, and only pretend to eat the portions of sacrificial meat as prescribed by the king; this action would enable him to escape death, by availing himself of an act of kindness prompted by their long friendship. But having taken a noble decision worthy of his years and the dignity of his great age and the well earned distinction of his grey hairs, worthy too of his impeccable conduct from boyhood, and above all of the holy legislation established by God himself, he publicly stated his convictions, telling them to send him at once to Hades. ‘Such pretence’ he said ‘does not square with our time of life; many young people would suppose that Eleazar at the age of ninety had conformed to the foreigners’ way of life, and because I had played this part for the sake of a paltry brief spell of life might themselves be led astray on my account; I should only bring defilement and disgrace on my old age. Even though for the moment I avoid execution by man, I can never, living or dead, elude the grasp of the Almighty. Therefore if I am man enough to quit this life here and now I shall prove myself worthy of my old age, and I shall have left the young a noble example of how to make a good death, eagerly and generously, for the venerable and holy laws.’
With these words he went straight to the block. His escorts, so recently well disposed towards him, turned against him after this declaration, which they regarded as sheer madness. Just before he died under the blows, he groaned aloud and said, ‘The Lord whose knowledge is holy sees clearly that, though I might have escaped death, whatever agonies of body I now endure under this bludgeoning, in my soul I am glad to suffer, because of the awe which he inspires in me.’
This was how he died, leaving his death as an example of nobility and a record of virtue not only for the young but for the great majority of the nation.