31st Sunday Year – C
Wisdom 11:22-12:1; 2 Thes 1:11-2:2; Lk 19:1-10
Dear Friends! The kid had swallowed a coin and it got stuck in his throat, and so his mother ran out in the street yelling for help. A man passing by took the boy by his shoulders and hit him with a few strong strokes on the back, and so he coughed the coin out. “I don’t know how to thank you, doc…”, his mother started. “I’m not a doctor”, the man replied, “I’m from the IRS”.
This morning we’re focusing on a high-ranking IRS man Zacchaeus who cheated not on his return, but on everyone else’s. He had figured out a way to skim some money off the top and squeeze the last drop from people’s wallets. As a tax collector, he worked for Rome and was considered a traitor by the Jewish people. The fact that he worked for the Roman IRS indicated to others that he was more interested in money than anything else.
In verse 3 we notice that while Zack is very wealthy and successful by the world’s standards, he knew something was missing. Even people today, if they are honest, will eventually admit that there’s more to life than just trying to make money and obtain possessions. Notice that it doesn’t say that Zack just wanted to see Jesus. No. He wanted to see who Jesus was. He wanted to figure out what it was that made Jesus different from everyone else. He may not have fully understood what was going on in his heart, but Zack had a desperate need to get to Jesus. He probably couldn’t even explain what drew him to see who Jesus was.
Zack was short, but he wasn’t slow! He ran ahead of the crowd, looking for a way that he could see Jesus. He claimed on a Sycamore tree. He was determined to see Jesus and frankly didn’t care what others thought of his climbing. Zack did not allow anything, not the crowd or his condition, to stand between him and his desire to see the Lord Jesus. What about us? Do we have the same desire to see Jesus and hear his word and receive him in the Eucharist day after day or week after week?
In verse 5 we see that while Zacchaeus may have been searching, it was really Jesus who was seeking him: “When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Jesus took note of Zacchaeus, although we are not told why. He stopped, looked up, called him by name, and told him that He must come to His house. There is a famous painting by Holman Hunt entitled, “The Light of the World”. It shows Jesus lamp in hand knocking gently on a door, signifying that he knocks on every human heart. But the door has no handle for, as the artist explained, Christ can only knock; it is for the person inside to let him in; and so the door handle is on the inside. When Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down, I must stay at your house todady” Lk19:5), Jesus was knocking on the door of Zacchaeus’ heart and he opened. Jesus continues to knock at the door of our hearts. Are you willing to open the door for him?
Zacchaeus didn’t waste any time getting out of the tree. Verse 6 tells us, “So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham”.
What stage are you at this morning? Are you curious about who Jesus is? If so, don’t stop there. Investigate. Check Him out up close by reading the Bible. Consider His claims. Keep coming to church. As you do, your next step is to be converted. That’s why Jesus came. He came to convert you, He seeks to save you, and He longs to show you His love. And then, He will change your life in ways you can’t even imagine.
Here at the Mass He knocks, when the scriptures are read and explained, for he said, “He who listens to you, listens to me”; he knocks in the liturgy of the Eucharist, for he said, “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, remains in me and I in him”, He knocks whenever we encounter needy people, for he said that whoever helps one of these, helps him. Do we open our hearts when Jesus knocks?