Tuesday - Ordinary Time
1) Opening prayer
Father of all that is good,
keep us faithful in serving you,
for to serve you is our lasting joy.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Luke 19,1-10
Jericho and was going through the town and suddenly a man whose name was
Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a
wealthy man. He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and
could not see him for the crowd; so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to
catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
When Jesus reached
the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I
am to stay at your house today.'
And he hurried
down and welcomed him joyfully.
complained when they saw what was happening. 'He has gone to stay at a sinner's
house,' they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, 'Look,
sir, 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.'
And Jesus said
to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son
of Abraham; for the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost.'
• In today’s
Gospel we are reaching the end of the long journey which began in chapter 9 (Lk
9, 51). During the journey, it was not easy to know the way Jesus was
following. It was only known that he was going toward Jerusalem! Now at the
end, the geography was clear and definite. Jesus reaches Jericho, the city of
the palm trees, in the Valley of Jordan. The last stop of the pilgrims, before
going up toward Jerusalem! He went to Jericho where the long road of exodus of
40 years in the desert ended. The exodus of Jesus was also ended. In entering
into Jericho, Jesus meets a blind man who wanted to see him (Lk 18, 35-43). Now
in going out of the city, he meets Zacchaeus, a tax collector: he also wants to
see him. A blind man and a Publican. Both of them were excluded. Both of them
bothered and disturbed the people: the blind man because he was shouting out to
Jesus, the Publican because of the taxes. Both are accepted by Jesus, each one
in his own way.
• Luke 19, 1-2: The
situation. Jesus enters into Jericho and crosses the city. “And behold a
man whose name was Zacchaeus, head of the tax collectors and a rich man”. The
tax collector was the person who collected the public taxes on selling
and buying of merchandise. Zacchaeus was the head of the tax collectors in the
city. He was very rich and closely linked to the system of domination of the
Romans. The more religious Jews argued in this way: “The king of our people is
God. Therefore, the dominion of the Romans on us is against God. Anyone who
collaborates with the Romans, sins against God!” Thus, the soldiers who served
in the Roman army and the tax collectors, like Zacchaeus, were excluded and
avoided because they were considered sinners and impure.
• Luke 19, 3-4: The
attitude of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus. But being small, he
ran ahead and climbed on a tree and waited for Jesus to go by. He really had a
great desire to see Jesus! Before in the parable of the poor Lazarus and of the
rich man who has no name (Lk 16, 19-31), Jesus had said that it was truly very
difficult for a rich person to be converted and to open the door that separates
him from accepting poor Lazarus. Here we have a rich man who does not close
himself up in his riches. Zacchaeus wants something more. When an adult, a
person who is prominent in the city, climbs up on a tree, it is because he does
not care much about the opinion of others. Something more important moves him
inside. He wants to open the door for poor Lazarus.
• Luke 19, 5-7: Attitude
of Jesus, reaction of the people and of Zacchaeus. Getting and seeing
Zacchaeus on the tree, Jesus does not ask nor does he demand anything. He only responds
to the desire of the man and says: “Zacchaeus come down, hurry because I am
to stay at your home today!” Zacchaeus gets down and receives Jesus, in his
house, with great joy, “All complained: He has gone to stay at a sinner’s
house!” Luke says that all complained! That signifies that Jesus was
remaining alone in his attitude of accepting the excluded, especially the
collaborators of the system. But Jesus does not care about the criticism. He
goes to the house of Zacchaeus and defends him from the criticism. Instead of
calling him sinner, he calls him “son of Abraham” (Lk 19, 9).
• Luke 19, 8: Decision
of Zacchaeus. “Look, Lord, I am going to give half of my property to the poor;
and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount!” This
is the conversion produced in Zacchaeus because of the acceptance that he
received from Jesus. To give back four times was what the law prescribed to do
in certain cases (Ex 21, 37; 22, 3). To give half of my possessions to the poor
was the novelty which the contact with Jesus produced in him. In fact, sharing
was taking place.
• Luke 19, 9-10: Final word of Jesus. “Today salvation has come to this house, because this
man too is a son of Abraham”. The interpretation of the Law by means of the
ancient Tradition excluded the tax collectors from the race of Abraham. Jesus
says that he comes to seek and save what was lost. The Kingdom is for all.
Nobody can be excluded. The choice of Jesus is clear, and also his call: It is
not possible to be Jesus’ friend and continue to support a system which
marginalizes and excludes so many people. By denouncing the unjust divisions,
Jesus opens the space to a new way of living together, directed by the new
values of truth, of justice and of love.
• Son of
Abraham. "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is
a son of Abraham!” Through being a descendant of Abraham all nations of
earth will be blessed (Gn 12, 3; 22, 18).It was very important for Luke’s
communities, formed by Christians, both of Jewish and of Pagan origin, the
affirmation that Jesus calls Zacchaeus “son of Abraham”. In this we find the
confirmation of the fact that in Jesus, God was fulfilling the promises made to
Abraham, addressed to all nations, both to Jews and to gentiles. They are also sons
of Abraham and heirs of the promises. Jesus accepts those who were not
accepted. He offers a place to those who do not have it. He receives as
brothers and sisters the persons whom the religion and the government excluded
- immoral: the prostitutes and the
sinners (Mt 21,31-32; Mk 2,15; Lk 7, 37-50; Jn 8, 2-11),
- heretic: pagans and Samaritans (Lk
7, 2-10; 17,16; Mk 7, 24-30; Jn 4, 7-42),
- impure: lepers and possessed (Mt
8, 2-4; Lk 17,12-14; Mk 1, 25-26),
- marginalized: women, children and
the sick (Mk 1,32; Mt 8,16;19,13-15; Lk 8, 2-3),
- fighters: publicans and soldiers
(Lk 18, 9-14;19,1-10);
- the poor: the people of the place
and the poor who had no power (Mt 5, 3; Lk 6, 20; Mt 11,25-26).
4) Personal questions
• How does our
community accept the persons who are despised and marginalized? Are we capable,
like Jesus to perceive the problems of persons and to give them some attention?
· How do we perceive salvation today entering into
our house and into our community? The welcoming tenderness of Jesus produced a
total change in the life of Zacchaeus. Is the tenderness of our community
producing some change in the neighbourhood? Which one?
5) Concluding prayer
With all my
heart I seek you,
do not let me
stray from your commandments.
In my heart I
treasure your promises,
sinning against you. (Ps 119,10-11)