ICCH Bulletin of October 30, 2022
October 30, 2022 Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Welcome Father Eckhard Today’s Readings: Wis 11:22-12:2 | 2 Thes 1:11-2:2 | Lk 19:1-10
In the Gospel, we have another example of Jesus’ interests in the conversion of sinners. During the time of Jesus, Jericho was a beautiful town and important trade centre. It was the last stop for Pilgrims from the East before they started their final steep climb to Jerusalem. It was a rich and prosperous town and a trade Centre and therefore customs had to be paid on many items that passed through. This required the presence of a high tax official with many working under his direction. Zacchaeus the chief of the tax collectors is introduced into the story because he wanted to see Jesus and find for himself who this person was. Tax collectors had never been popular in Roman Palestine and they were particularly hated by everyone including the Jews themselves. It was bad enough that the tax collectors collaborated with the foreign oppressors, namely the Romans. They also oppressed people by collecting taxes more than demanded by Rome. In the Gospel of today Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus was not by chance. Jesus called him in a unique way. Zacchaeus had heard that Jesus was coming and out of curiosity, he wanted to see Him. We are also told that he was short 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. He risked public ridicule to see Jesus.
When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, he stopped there, asked him to come down the tree, and invited Himself to his home for a meal. There is no recorded instance of Jesus ever refusing an invitation to share food and drink but surprisingly invited himself into this man’s house who was a tax collector. Here Jesus saw a person’s heart, his search for repentance, and his hope for the future. Jesus looked at Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus looked at Jesus. Like all true seekers, Zacchaeus got more than he bargained for. So the surprising Tax Collector hurried down and was happy to welcome Jesus into his home. This certainly displeased the crowd that was accompanying Jesus. In their eyes, this tax collector like all tax collectors was a sinner and they grumbled about it. What followed was a total human change of heart. Zacchaeus made an announcement to Jesus and volunteered to distribute half of his possessions to the poor and added that if he had defrauded anyone of anything he would pay back four times the amount which in reality was the restitution made by a robber. He was showing himself to be a man of feeling deeply touched by the kindness of Jesus. He responded to a moment of truth, the moment he knew that God’s love.
We have to remember that the main character of the story is not Zaccheus but Jesus. Here we see the son of man in action, doing what he came to do. Those who sincerely desire a sight of Christ, like Zacchaeus, will break through opposition, and take pains to see him. Here we see Jesus inviting himself to Zacchaeus’ house. Wherever Christ comes to any place or confronts any person he opens his own heart, and inclines it in such a way to receive the other. He that has a mind to know Jesus shall be known of him. Those, whom Christ calls, have to humble themselves like this tax collector and come down the tree of pride. Zacchaeus gave proof publicly that he became a true convert. Jesus has come to his house, and where Christ comes he brings salvation with him. He came into this lost world to seek and to save it.
In this gospel passage, we perceive that Zacchaeus, after having met Jesus experienced a total detachment from his earthly possessions. This indeed is the reaction of meeting Jesus and experiencing him in the Gospel. Once a person encounters Jesus he cannot remain the same. We see it in the context of Peter and his companions, Matthew, Paul, and several others. The person is expected to change. This was the experience of Zaccheus. Regarding restitution, the Law of Moses taught, “When a man or a woman wrongs another, breaking faith with the Lord, that person incurs guilt and shall confess the sin that has been committed. The person shall make full restitution for the wrong adding one-fifth to it, and giving it to the one who was wronged.” But Zacchaeus shows his extraordinary generosity. Instead of giving one-fifth over the goods unlawfully taken he adds three times over to the person concerned.
Following this personal commitment, Jesus responds to him by declaring that “Today salvation has come to this house because he too is a son of Abraham.” Jesus did not say that salvation had come to him alone, but rather to his entire household. It is because the household shared in Zacchaeus’ blessing as they had previously suffered in his unjust practices. Jesus adds to this saying that the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost. Zacchaeus was one such example where God welcomes back a sinner.
There is a message for us from the gospel passage of today. 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 dignity. The word “holy” in Greek actually means someone who is different, someone set apart. We can imagine Zacchaeus’ surprise when Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” He would have been shocked to hear such warm words from the Master. He looked for Jesus and now Jesus was ready to build a personal relationship with him.
Source: Fr. Eugene Lobo S.J. Shimoga, India, https://msjnov.wordpress.com/2022/10/23/thirty-first-sunday-of-the-year-october-30-2022/ Image: James Tissot: Zacchaeus in the Sycamore Awaiting the Passage of Jesus
- 6 November - Next Sunday, our monthly Social Gathering comes off after Mass. Please remember to bring some fingerfood as well as some time to share and interact with other parishioners.
- 6 November - Confessions for the month of November will take place on the first Sunday (6th Novemeber). Kindly take note of this one-time change.
- 30 October - There will be children’s church during Mass. Parents are invited to come along with their wards on that Sunday.