by Fr Joachim Robert
Psalm 144 (145):1-2,8-11,13b-14
2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Theme: Jesus Christ our Merciful Lord and Saviour
In our readings today, especially the Gospel, we are reminded of how God seeks us out and how infinite His mercy and compassion is for us.
And let us take the Gospel. Here we have the story of Zacchaeus, a wealthy man, a man who had everything in life. In the process of seeking his fulfillment of life that he wants, he amassed possessions, he amassed things and people so that he can feel comfortable. But the reality of the story of Zacchaeus, dear friends, when he heard about Jesus, something stirred in his heart and he wanted to see who this Jesus was.
And as we look at that story of Zacchaeus, dear friends, many of us seek the Lord in many many aspects of our lives. We grow seeking after material possessions, we go chasing after our career, we go through trying to find different things in life to do but ultimately, when we possess so many things around us, the question is are we fulfilled like Zacchaeus?
But the story of Zacchaeus tells us that even though we may have everything in life, something stirred the curiosity in our heart to seek for something which is more. And Zacchaeus was willing to go the extra mile because he was short, he was unable to move through the crowd quickly. So he found a solution for his problem. One is to climb up a sycamore tree and to get a glimpse of Jesus so that he can set eyes on Jesus and to see what people are speaking about Jesus.
And as you look at the story of Zacchaeus, dear friends, I invite you, invite you to look at your own stories of life too where you seek for so many things in life but are you seeking Jesus the source of all goodness, the source of all blessings? Because as we climb up that sycamore tree, that tree of our own life, we come to realise that there are so many things that we are not fulfilled. And if you want to find fulfillment, we need to set our eyes on Jesus. We need to climb up the tree of the cross so that we are able to set eyes on Jesus.
But the interesting story is as Zacchaeus climbs up the sycamore tree, Jesus enters Jericho going through the town and as Zacchaeus made his appearance, Jesus comes in and set eyes on him. In a situation, dear friends, like this, you see when we seek God very often, we see the struggles, the challenges, the obstacles that we have to go through to climb up that tree. But Jesus comes and sets his eyes on Zacchaeus. He looks up on Zacchaeus. As he looks up to Zacchaeus, he looks into the growth of his faith, the growth of where he was as a man who is full of possessions, full of control around him, with people because he was a senior tax collector. As Jesus looks up to him, he sees the growth, the struggles, the obstacles that Zacchaeus has to confront even though the ridicule of the crowd and to see the growth that he has made.
But when Jesus says come down, we see the response of the crowd. The response of the crowd is that he has gone to stay in the sinner’s house. And sometimes when we make that transformation of faith, that transformation of life where we are able to acknowledge God’s presence in our lives, sometimes we need to stand our ground, dear friends, because the invitation that the Lord gives us is for us to grow deeper in our relationship, in our faith with him. But are we willing to embrace that look of love, the gaze of love that Jesus offers us and respond in faith and come down of our own pride, come down of our own ego, come down of our own self sufficiency that we are able to come down and be together with Jesus?
And as we look at Zacchaeus, physically challenged he may be, small, dwarfed, but that did not stop him of seeking Jesus. And you and I, dear friends, are limited in so many different ways. You and I fall into this situation of sin each and every time we want to pick ourselves up and move. But are we willing to put God first? Are we willing to fix our gaze on Jesus as he invites us to come down from our own ego? Coming down because He wants to stay in our house?
And as we look at the response of Zacchaeus, he hurriedly comes down and welcomed Him joyfully. And each time we enter into the Sacrament of Confession, each time we are able to humble ourselves before God, acknowledging the limitations that we are in, and embracing the gaze that our Lord offers us because we have climbed up that tree of the cross, the Lord wants to fix his gaze on us even more. And if we have embraced that encounter of God, the gaze of Zacchaeus, the gaze of Jesus with each other gives us an opportunity of the divine and us. Because each time the Lord comes into our lives, he touches our hearts, touches our lives so that we are able to be empowered with His grace and His love. Because when we seek God, dear friends, when we seek the tree of life, the tree of the cross, the Lord makes us acknowledge the identity that we have in Him, as sons and daughters, as children of the Father.
And embracing that identity as the children because if we continue to seek our possession, we may lose ourself in the process by finding our possessions. But Jesus comes to allow us to find ourselves as we seek experiences, as we seek career, as we seek education, as we seek so many aspects of life, we must allow the Lord to reveal Himself to us and come down so that we are able to dwell in God’s house.
And that encounter, dear friends, the response of that encounter of Zacchaeus, that each time we are touched like Zacchaeus, the beauty of God, the beauty of the love of God continues to spread from what we have experienced because we cannot keep it to ourselves. We must share the goodness, that love, the mercy that God has given to us. That is why Zacchaeus said I am going to give half my property to the poor. If I have cheated anybody, I will pay him back four times the amount. We cannot quantify the experience the Lord gives us, dear friends, but we must remember that invitation is offered to you and I. And Zacchaeus has made us realise that our pursuit for God must be beyond the pursuit of our possessions and we need to be willing to climb up that tree and to come down from that tree that we can encounter Jesus.
And as we step forward and drink into that divine mystery that the Lord offers us in the Eucharist, let us ask the Lord to come into our dwelling, come into our lives and make His home with us.
Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-