THIRTY FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
30th October 2022
Wisdom 11:22-12:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10.
The story of the tax collector Zacchaeus is presented to us today to remind us that repentance from any habitual sin is very possible. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and one of the richest men in Jericho at the time. He made all his wealth through corrupt means as a tax collector. He was hated and despised like all tax collectors, by the community because of the corruption and his collaboration with the Roman government imposed on the people. He was not a happy man. The presence of Jesus of Nazareth, a friend to tax collectors and sinners in Jericho, was a big relief for him from the scorn of the public. He climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus and earn his friendship. His efforts attracted Jesus to his house, and he was reconciled and transformed.
There are two lessons for us in the story of Zacchaeus. Firstly, Jesus has proved himself a father and a friend to all. He is a friend to sinners in need of repentance. He has not condemned anyone and no one should feel condemned. According to the first reading from the book of Wisdom: ‘You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable spirit is in all’. This assurance motivates us to seek his presence in order to be delivered from our habitual sins. Habitual sins like all sins, estrange us from ourselves and those around us.
Secondly, Zacchaeus made sincere effort to seek the presence of the one who is a friend and able to deliver him from the scorn of the people. He presented himself to Jesus. Jesus came to his home and dinned with him. When we present ourselves to Jesus in the sacrament of reconciliation or confession, he comes into our lives to make a home. His special presence will motivate us to make the necessary changes like Zacchaeus who said ‘…I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount’. Let us find hope through the story of Zacchaeus and begin a journey of repentance from our habitual sins.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM