BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara.



(WISDOM 11:22-12:2; 2 THESSALONIANS 1:11-2:2, LUKE 19:1-10)

Today’s readings center on God’s disposition towards man and his ultimate desire to have man come back to him; in the words of Christ “the son of man has come to seek and to save what was lost”. The reading from the Book of Wisdom is one of the strongest statements in the Old Testament of God’s mercy on all and God’s desire that all people should be saved, “since if you had hated something you would not have made it”. Again, and again the Book of Wisdom makes much of God’s forbearance, that sinners may have every chance to repent. Our love for God must be free, so if our choice of God must be free, rejection of God is also a possibility, Hell must be a possibility, but is it empty? We have no right to judge the consciences even of the monsters of history, and it is hard to say that anyone has been without some spark of generosity or gentleness or goodness. But we must tell ourselves the truth.
The gospel reading today calls us to seek our God with energy and perseverance, to not be discouraged by the difficulties that we may encounter along the way. In the first century Jewish culture, to dine together was to show a bond of fellowship and peace among those at the table.

Observant Jews did not generally dine with foreigners and sinners. Yet, Jesus chooses to honor the tax collector, Zacchaeus, by staying at his house. Why? Zacchaeus shows himself to be someone in search of salvation. Zacchaeus, described as short in stature, runs, climbs a tree, gets as close as possible in order to see Jesus. We know from Luke’s description that Zacchaeus was no ordinary tax collector; he was, in fact, the chief tax collector and a person of some wealth. In his search for salvation, he humbled himself by making a spectacle of himself – climbing a tree.

It was a constant complaint of defenders of the Law and its prescriptions that Jesus kept disreputable company – tax-collectors, lepers, Samaritans, and prostitutes! He took part in their carousals and seemed to enjoy their company. Jesus does not seem even to be aware of their uncleanness. He does not wait for them to repent and approach him, but positively goes out to them and summons them into his company. This unpopular little man was simply inquisitive, wanting to see what Jesus looked like. One can imagine his open-mouthed and delighted amazement, perched in his sycamore-tree, as Jesus invited himself to supper over the heads of the intervening crowd. ‘Why should Jesus choose me?’ No conditions attached, no previous guarantee of good behavior or repentance! Jesus draws out our good intentions before we are even aware of them ourselves. So, we can all fit into Zacchaeus’ shoes.

My brothers and sisters, we want God, but we often don’t want God enough to seek only God and not seek out our own pleasure, joy and satisfaction. It is important to pay attention here because there is nothing totally wrong with pleasure, joy and satisfaction! Jesus does not come to teach us that human life is basically bad! Instead, Jesus comes to tell us that we are loved, and this is the message of the Goodnews today. Are we so interested in Jesus Christ that we are willing to be a bit foolish in our following of him? And are we willing to risk being misunderstood by others and perhaps even being judged harshly by them?

My dear friends, every day Jesus keeps coming our way full of mercy and love. He is truly present here in his body and blood on the altar, in the readings, in the minister. He comes our way through our neighbors, in the people in need of our help and through the whole of creation. Do we see or recognize Him? How much effort do we make to have a glimpse of him? If we make frantic efforts as Zacchaeus did, Christ will certainly notice us and show us his loving mercy. Therefore, we must rise above all obstacles that prevents us from seeing Christ and receiving his mercy. Take action now!
Upon us oh Lord have Mercy!

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