19 Nov 2019: Jesus’ encounter with Zaccheus

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Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: 2 Mc 6:18-31,LK 19:1-10

The Holy mother Church gives us a very familiar passage for our reflection: Jesus’ encounter with Zaccheus. We can elucidate three main reflections from the passage.

  1. Change is for everyone

Zaccheus was a tax collector. Tax collectors were among the most hated people in Israel because they used to literally loot people for their comfort. No wonder that the people grumbled when Jesus decided to go to his house. But the crux of the passage is change is for everyone. But very often we already form judgments about people which prevent the person from changing. We are familiar with the saying, ‘Once a thief, ever a thief,’ because our perceptions do not change easily. The story of Zaccheus tells us that people can change for good. A proud person can change to be humble; an arrogant person can change to be gentle; a lazy person can change to be diligent. Let us not brand people. Let us not give up on people; they can change like Zaccheus.

  1. Sorrow for sins calls for adequate reparation

We can sometimes get into the idea that with confession of sins everything is alright. But the action of Zaccheus shows us that sorrow or true contrition will prompt us to do adequate and proportionate reparation for the sins committed. Zaccheus had cheated people and looted money from them and now he is ready to pay it back four times. If I have taken something from someone unjustly, I have to return it back to him. It is interesting to see that it is not when Jesus entered the house of Zaccheus that he told that salvation has come to this house; it is only when Zaccheus was ready to make restitution that Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

  1. Come down from our man-made branches and welcome Christ into our lives

Zaccheus had actually climbed a branch of his own – a branch made with greed, pride, injustice, emotionless behavior and so on; and Jesus calls him “Come down; only if you come down I can come to your house.” It was not Zaccheus who saw Jesus first; it was Jesus who encountered Zaccheus and asked him to come down. Whatever be our sinful condition, Jesus sees us and asks us to come down from our man-made branches and welcome him into our homes. Zaccheus came down and his whole life changed. We also create branches in life – branches of greed, pride, avarice, jealousy, indifference – which prevent us from seeing Jesus face to face. Revelation 3: 10, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” He is knocking at the door of my life; am I willing to get up from my comfortable chair and open the door for Jesus? It would challenge me; it would disturb my life as it did in the life of Zaccheus; but it would change my life upside down.

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