YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: GOD IS MERCIFUL
BY: Fr JB Mbbah-Offor.
HOMILY: Wis 11:22-12:2, 2 Thess 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10
The mercy of God is an all – embracing mercy and it breaks down the barriers that man erects. St Augustine would say, “trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His Providence”. The Gospel of today taken from Luke 19:1-10, gives us the image of God as a Father who sent his Son to seek out what was lost.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. There was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see him because of the crowd. So he ran away and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today. So Zacchaeus hurried down and received him joyfully.
Jericho is a wealthy and an important city. It occupies a strategic position astride the road to Jerusalem. Its gardens of roses were known far and wide. It was known as ‘city of palms’. Josephus called it ‘ a divine region’, the fattest in Palestine. All these make Jericho one of the greatest taxation centres in Palestine.
Tax collectors are known as publicans and they are mentioned many times in the Bible ( mainly in the New Testament). The tax collectors were hated by the Jews because of their perceived greed and collaboration with the Romans.
Zacchaeus was a Chief tax collector. He is characterized in three ways: He was a Jew, a chief tax collector and a wealthy man. He was wealthy but was not happy. Inevitably he was lonely, for he had chosen a way that made him an outcast. He had no respect in the society. He had wealth, but not salvation; he had money but no respect. He was despised and hated by all. He heard about Jesus and ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree in other to catch glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
To be successful in life, we must be determined in what we are doing. We should work hard to achieve our goals. Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus because of his short stature, but he was determined to see Him. He climbed a tree to see Him. Zacchaeus knew that to retain Jesus, he had to give up some of his ill- gotten wealth. He said to Jesus, ” I’m going to give half of my wealth to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody, I will pay him back four times”. Restitution is necessary.
The figure of Zacchaeus should teach us that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. Every soul is very dear to him. There are many people today who are looking for Jesus like Zacchaeus but they have no opportunity and courage to do so like him. Zacchaeus overcame his smallness and the social stigma through his dedication. How dedicated are we in our spiritual matters? How dedicated are we in our responsibilities? There can be no devout devotion without dedication, and no dedication without determination.
Zacchaeus promised to refund four times all those he had defrauded. There is need to make restitutions. Zacchaeus represents all sinners, and the Sycamore in the Gospel became the image of the Church as refugium peccatorum .
We should not abandon hope in anyone, even in our difficult moments. God’s mercy will always be greater than our poor human limitations. Despite our unworthiness, God calls us, forgives us and nurtures us to spiritual well-being. Let’s turn to Christ now. Like Zacchaeus, we should invite Jesus in our hearts and surrender all we have to Him. Jesus is our Saviour.
Happy Sunday everyone!
Fr JB Mbbah-Offor.