HOMILY FOR TUESDAY 33RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME: Presentation of Virgin Mary – YEAR A
THEME: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime
By: Deacon Bill Frere
Sycamore Tree, Jericho
Gospel – Luke 19:1-10
My mom is a bit on the short side! And there have been plenty of times over the years when we have been asked to get something off the top shelf in the pantry or closet, something she couldn’t reach. Of course we did have a small step-stool that she would use from time to time to do it herself. And sometimes that would lead to some ladder-related mis-adventures (don’t get me started) as she might insist on reaching for something herself.
So I have to wonder whether today is National Short People’s Day, in honor of Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel. Poor guy, not only was he short and probably picked on because of it. But he was also a tax collector and, in fact, the chief tax collector. So not only was he teased; he was also despised by his fellow Jews for working with the Romans. He was powerful and wealthy and hated for it.
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Today’s Gospel gives us this utterly ridiculous image of Zacchaeus climbing a sycamore tree just to catch a glimpse of Jesus as He is passing through Jericho. Kind of reminds me of all the times I give our daughter Jaime a piggy-back ride so that she could see things better, especially when we were at the zoo.
Zacchaeus had to know he would be laughed at and scorned even more for climbing that tree. And yet he did it anyway. And the result? Sheer joy at the moment Jesus calls out to him and invites Himself to dinner. Such joy that we witness this conversion moment where Zacchaeus promises to give away half of all he owns and repay 4 times anyone that he cheated!
Such excitement for climbing that tree! Such joy at seeing the Savior! Such love for giving to the poor! He may have been short in stature but not in faith!
Today’s Feast of the Presentation of Mary is based on an ancient tradition that says Mary was taken up to the Temple in Jerusalem when she was 3 years old and dedicated by her parents, Joachim and Anna, in service to God. It is a recognition of Mary’s holiness from conception to Assumption and her faithfulness to the will of God.
The challenge for us? Do we go to great lengths to catch a glimpse of the Lord? Do we joyfully welcome Jesus into our house, into our hearts? Do we recognize that our faith is more precious than any possession or wealth in this life?
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