YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THOSE SHORTNESS, THOSE SHORTCOMINGS OF OURS
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
HOMILY: First reading – Wis. 11:22-12:2
Second reading – 2 Thess. 1:11 – 2:2
Gospel – Lk. 19:1-10
You may have arguments for or against, but I would wish to say that there’s never a human being without some elements of shortness, or, call it shortcomings. To say that something is short is simply to say it does not reach the required length or measure. We can see shortness in height, weight, beauty, affluence and so on. No human being has that wholeness. Something may be complete in your life, at the same time; you may be short of another thing. On the other hand, a short coming could be identified as the “but” in human character. It is more obvious to see that no human being is all of a good character. At any rate, our shortness, our shortcomings could become stepping stones to greatness.
The story of Zacchaeus in today’s’ gospel, gives us a clear picture of what human shortness and shortcomings could look like. Zacchaeus may have been a handsome man. He may have had well-arranged dentition, smooth skin and glazing eyes. But his physical endowment was short of height. And while you laugh because you are tall, just look at your dentition; look at that scare on your skin that has just spoilt the whole show. Whatever shortness we see in our life imposes one challenge or another. In case of Zacchaeus, the challenge was that: “he wanted to catch a glance of Jesus, but he was too short and was unable to see him because of the crowd” – (Lk 19:3). Again, Zacchaeus had a shortcoming in morals. He was a tax collector. In any case, it was not his being a tax collector that was the problem. The issue was that tax collectors are marked for their unjust extortions which Zacchaeus was not innocent of. The challenge this imposed was that people would not like to have anything to do with him. No wonder they picked at Jesus when He chose to associate with him.
Despite his shortness and shortcomings, with the corresponding challenges imposed to his life, Zacchaeus did not sit back to say it is finished. Rather, he went beyond the ordinary and obtained a favor which “normal” people never had the privilege. There are things that strike me about this man Zacchaeus. It was not his “strong faith” in God that made him start looking for Jesus. One can say it was a mere curiosity. But in this curiosity, humility was displayed. We note how “everybody” went after Jesus. For Zacchaeus, his was just to see this man after whom everyone went. That was how he walked into divine glory which God set for him. Arrogance, or “what would the people take me for” could have made him walk away thus, missing it all. As long as you alone know the aim you wish to achieve, a good one and not bad one, you are missing a point when you let the attitude or reactions of the crowd deter you from following your good path. After all, individuals in the crowd would certainly go, each man to his own home, and you remain with your problems.
Like Zacchaeus, for us to scale through, we need to, first, recognize the fact of shortness and shortcomings present in our lives. Recognizing these and being despondent would harm us. Rather, determining to make our little efforts. Who knows, what God wants is just those efforts. Had Zacchaeus not climbed, he could have missed. God places our destiny beside our “sycamores”. The prophet Amos’ divine call was found beside his sycamore – Amos 7:14.
Zacchaeus found his on his own sycamore. Your sycamore is out there. Even that shortness of yours, that shortcoming of yours would help you find your way to your “sycamore” where you will discover God. I remember the woman with an issue of blood – Matt. 9:18-22. Her shortness and shortcomings made way for her to see Jesus. It will cost you the three “D’s” – Determination – Dedication – and Discipline.