The 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Wisdom 11:22—12:2 ― 2 Thess 1:11—2:2 ― Luke 19:1-10
October 31, 2010
The four Gospel accounts do not tell us >everything< that happened to Jesus during His earthly life. The evangelists—as writers—chose particular events, and details about those events. When they chose a particular event to describe, they also chose specific details because these details help us relate Jesus’ life to ours. Why, then, does Luke bother to mention that it’s >Jericho< “that Jesus came to… and intended to pass through”? If the detail is not important, why mention it?
Luke knew that those hearing his gospel account understood the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, many things—people, places and things—foreshadow something in the New Testament. This is not accidental, but inspired by the divine Author of Scripture.
Think for a moment about a city: symbolically, it can represent another city, or even something other than a city. This is often true in stories. Take, for example, A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens’ story is not actually a tale of two >cities<. Rather, it’s a tale of two >men<. The two cities represent two men, identical in appearance, who come face to face with death, and make different choices. The reader, of course, learns from the experiences of these two men, and come away from the story a better person.
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Zacchaeus is a rich collector of taxes. Each of us, like him, is attached to worldly things. Zacchaeus (meaning you) wants to see who Jesus is, but Zacchaeus has two strikes against him.
The first strike against Zacchaeus is the crowd, because everyone wants to see Jesus. It’s easy to get lost, not to be loved, in the crowd. One might ask himself, “How can Jesus love EVERYone?” The second strike against Zacchaeus is his small size, which may represent the size of our soul. One might feel unworthy of God’s love, and ask himself, “How could Jesus love ME?”
So Zacchaeus climbs up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus. This is all Zacchaeus wants: to see Jesus. But that’s not enough for Jesus.
Here’s the turning point in this gospel passage: When Jesus reached the place (where Zacchaeus had climbed the tree), Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly; for today I must stay at your house.” Jesus takes the initiative to reach out to this individual. And just as he reached out to this little sinner, he is trying to reach into your life.
This passage illustrates the point/purpose/end of the spiritual life: that God would dwell within us, and from within, transform us. This is point of listening to God calling us in the Liturgy of the Word: to come down from where we’ve placed ourselves, and allow Jesus to enter our home, to enter our soul, to transform us from within.