HOMILY FOR THE 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
THEME: LEARNING FROM ZACCHAEUS AND THE SYCAMORE TREE.
BY: Fr. Zenon Guanzon.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 30 2022.
Wisdom 11, 22 – 12, 2 / Ps 145 / 2 Thessalonians 1, 11 – 2,2 / Luke 19, 1 – 10
What are you searching for in life today? Are you looking for a life time partner nga dili paasa ug hilig mang-ghosting? Or are you looking for a way out of your never-ending list of utangs, loans, ug uban pang mga bayranan? Or are you looking for peace of mind?… kay lagi ang kalibutan nga imong gipuy-an puros naman lang gubot…. Gubat sa Ukraine ug Russia, unya apilan pag gubot sa imong pamilya. Indeed, life is a constant search. Every time we wake up from sleep marks the beginning of another long day of seeking out what truly gives joy to our hearts.
Our Gospel today is a famous story from Luke. Every time we hear the name “Zacchaeus,” we usually associate him with things like “short in stature” and “the one who climbed the sycamore tree.” For our reflection this Sunday, let me bring your attention to the first action of Zacchaeus in the story. After informing us of the job and social status of Zacchaeus (a chief tax collector and a rich man), the narrator tells us in verse 3 that “he was seeking to see who Jesus was.” These words of the narrator is the English translation of the original Greek verb, ζητέω, which means “to look for something that was possessed but had been lost, or to devote serious effort, to strive for one’s desire or objective.” Thus, we realize that Zacchaeus was not simply a spectator who was curious about this famous man named Jesus. He was not a Marites na nag-abang sa latest tsismis and chika. Rather, Zacchaeus was “ζητέω.” He was searching for something that is very important in his life. He was seeking for the desire and objective of his heart. And what was he searching for in life? We go to verse 10 of our Gospel story today wherein the verb ζητέω once again appear. This time it is no longer Zacchaeus who was searching for something but “ the Son of Man has come to seek (ζητέω) and to save what was lost.” Zacchaeus was not simply looking for Jesus. He was searching for his salvation which only the Son of Man can give because in the very first place the Son of Man has been in constant search not just for Zaccahaeus but even for you and me.
And so, let us ask ourselves, in my life right now, what am I searching for (ζητέω)? Am I searching for the approval and praise of people? Mao ng magpatagad gyud kos akong FB page… I-post gyud nako tanan nakong mga biyahe para pakpakan kos mga tawo… I-post gyud nako nga naka Lacoste ko’g t-shirt ug naka-iWatch nga relo para daghan modayeg sa Akong kinabuhi! Am I searching for acceptance? Mao I never turn down any request from people so that I can be accepted by everyone bahalag stress na kaayo kos akong kinabuhi! Pakpak diri! Pakpak didto! Tando diri! Tando didto lang ko ani! My dear friends, let us learn from Zacchaeus. Let us truly search for (ζητέω) what matters in life: OUR SALVATION. And what is salvation? Well, from our Gospel, it is all about allowing God to come inside our house. Salvation is all about welcoming God to enter and transform our hearts! Kay unsaon mana nimong naa kay latest nga SUV, mga mahalon nga mga sinina, pinakaclass nga sports, ug pinaka- influential nga circle of friends, if at the end of life, ma-impyerno ra gihapon ka? Today, let us allow the words of Jesus, “Today, salvation has come into this house,” to be real and effective in our lives by first seeking Him, always and only Him.
Let me bring you back to the story. The narrator tells us that Zacchaeus was seeking to see Jesus “but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.” If you notice, the non possibility of seeing Jesus was not primarily because of his short stature. It was the crowd who prevented him from seeing Jesus because even if he was short but if the crowd allowed him then syaro naman sad walay mokugos niya or di ba kaha mosung-ay niya so that he can see Jesus pass by, isn’t it? Thus, it was really the crowd who served as a stumbling block in the encounter between Zacchaeus and the Lord.
In our lives, we are sometimes like the crowd. Our lives sometimes becomes the reason why others will not have a chance to have a meaningful and life changing encounter with the Lord. You and I sometimes are guilty of being a “stumbling block” for God’s salvation to happen in the lives of others. For example, a priest or any religious becomes a “stumbling block” for others to see Jesus when in his/her FB wall puros nalang a life of luxury and entitlement ang makit-an sa mga tawo. Kana ganing upon waking up, you saw first an inspiring Monday quotation from the Bible pero after scrolling down makakita dayon ka’g post sa usa ka “holy and anointed” person nga nag- Starbucks unya pakapinan pa gyud og caption, “Good morning everyone! Salamat Lord sa Starbucks! Ug Enjoy life kaayo sa tanan! Or when you see a married person pero iyang mga posts sa FB daw mura pa man gihapon siyag’g Dalaga o ulitawo ba kaha… party there… clubbing here… happy all the way! My dear friends, let us not be like the crowd who became the hindrance for Zacchaeus to see Jesus. Rather, let us be like the sycamore tree who became the way for Zacchaeus to see Jesus. When we become instruments for others to experience God’s salvation, remember the words of Paul to Timothy (1 Tim 4,16) “ Pay attention to your life… Stay true to what is right because if you do, you save both yourself and those who hear you.” And the opposite is also true, when you prevent others to encounter Jesus then the words of Jesus earlier in Luke (6,39) becomes true to you, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?”
My dear friends, as I end my homily and as we continue searching for that which truly matters in life, let us never turn deaf to the lessons which Zacchaeus and the sycamore tree have taught us today: ζητέω! To search only and always for God’s salvation and to become “sycamore trees” for others to also “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Amen!