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Homily for Thirty-first Sunday C

28 Oct 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Zacchaeus

Our first reading this morning from the book of wisdom says something exciting; it reminds me of the creation story as recorded in Genesis 1:31. God saw everything he had made, and indeed, it was perfect.

The writer of the book of wisdom tells us this morning that God would not have made anything if he had hated it; God loves everything that exists and detests none of the things he had made; that includes you and me. God loves us; he calls us individually to be a reflection of that love. Yet, he gave us the free will to choose to remain good or turn the other way.

In our gospel passage today, Jesus entered Jericho, a wealthy and popular town. In that town was Zacchaeus, a very wealthy tax collector. Even though his name means ‘pure’ or ‘clean’ but he was never considered such; he was rather seen as a thief because tax collectors in the time of Jesus were considered thieves and traitors. Most times, they are unhappy and in need of love and acceptance.

Zacchaeus probably heard about the wonderful things Jesus was doing in people’s lives and got to know that Jesus was in the town of Jericho. Zacchaeus became anxious to see Jesus.

So many people were anxious to see Jesus, including King Herod (Luke. 9:9). People wanted to see Jesus, to touch him and to follow him, but for various reasons. They looked for Jesus for selfish reasons like Herod.

Are you anxious to see Jesus? Why do you want to see him? These are fundamental questions, and our answers determine to a great level our sincerity in our search for Christ. Zacchaeus was anxious to see Jesus, but the crowd made it impossible for him to see Jesus because he was a short man. So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus, who was to pass that way. Jesus indeed passed that way, and when he got to the spot where Zacchaeus was, he stopped. He looked up and ordered Zacchaeus to come down from the tree, for he would stay at his house that day. Zacchaeus did not hesitate to come down from the tree to welcome Jesus into his home; even when the people complained that Jesus has gone to the house of a sinner, Zacchaeus stood his ground and promised to give half of his property to the poor and pay those he must have cheated, four times over the amount. This repentance made Jesus say, salvation has come to this house today.

  Zacchaeus was short, but that did not stop him from seeing Jesus. Our encounter with Jesus and our relationship with him has nothing to do with how short or tall we are, how beautiful or handsome we are, nor how wealthy we are. God does not look at appearances but the heart, the sincerity with which we serve him. Zacchaeus was sincere in his search for God and so refused to let the crowd or his height be obstacles on his way to Christ; he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree, not minding the shamefulness of the act, for he was a wealthy and a well-known man in the city.

As Catholics, therefore, do we give excuses for not been devoted to the Church?  Do we feel too big or too famous to do certain things in the house of God? Zacchaeus was not ashamed, neither did he feel too big to do anything to see Jesus. He did not let anything hinder his encounter with Jesus.

What are the things that hinder our spiritual growth? Identify them, know that those things form a crowd in front of you. Zacchaeus did not let the group kill his zeal to see the Lord; he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree. That is what is expected of us today, to run ahead of whatever crowd in front of us to see Jesus.

  The mercy of God is indeed great; he overlooks men’s sins to invite them to repentance. He did show that Zacchaeus’ life, he overlooked his sins and invited him to repentance. God extends the same invite to us today; let’s, therefore, like Zacchaeus respond positively to this invite and accept salvation from Christ.

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