Meeting Jesus our Saviour

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week XXXI-C, 03 November 2019

Wisdom 11:22-12:2 ><}}}*> 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2 ><}}}*> Luke 19:1-10

A giant sycamore tree at the center of Jericho, the world’s oldest city. Photo by author, May 2019.

Jesus is now on the final leg of his “resolute journey to Jerusalem” as he passed by the world’s oldest city of Jericho. Next week, he would be teaching at the Temple area in Jerusalem where his enemies would gang up against him, eventually sending him to death as we shall hear on the 24th of this month, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Today we find a very interesting story that is in stark contrast with last Sunday’s parable of the Pharisee and tax collector praying at the Temple.

And this time, our story is not a fiction but an event found only in St. Luke’s gospel about a real tax collector named Zacchaeus, a very wealthy man indeed.

The fictional Pharisee Jesus narrated in his parable last week was a very proud one, of high stature literally and figuratively speaking that he would always stand and pray inside the Temple to be seen by everyone.

He was a self-righteous man who despised everyone else, especially tax collectors.

But, according to Jesus, the Pharisee’s prayer was not heard by God because he was not really seeking God but seeking adulation for himself!

Treetop of a sycamore tree in Jericho today.

Contrast that Pharisee with the chief tax collector in Jericho named Zacchaeus: he was of small stature, literally and figuratively speaking, that he had to climb a sycamore tree in order to see “who Jesus was” (Lk.19:3).

We can safely surmise that from St. Luke’s narration, nobody loved Zacchaeus in Jericho: he must be really so small in their eyes that he is hardly noticed maybe except when people paid taxes.

And that is why when he learned Jesus of Nazareth was passing by their city, he went to climb a sycamore tree to have a glimpse of the man he must have heard so often performing miracles and doing all good things for sinners like him.

Then, a strange thing happened…

When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. 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. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Luke 19:5-10

Was it serendipity or divine destiny?

Jesus was just passing through Jericho while Zacchaeus was merely interested in seeing the Lord. Never in his wildest dream, so to speak, did he intend to meet him personally.

From Google.

But, as we all believe and have realised, there are no coincidences or accidents in life.

Everything that happens in our lives has a purpose, a meaning that may either make us or unmake us.

It all depends on us whether we make the right decision in making the most out of whatever life offers us, of what comes to us. Either we become better or bitter – so choose wisely.

More so with salvation from God who never stops coming to us everywhere, anytime like with Zacchaeus when Jesus suddenly came to meet him.

The Catholic Parish Church in Jericho run by the Franciscans, May 2019.

Here we find again a story about faith that leads to conversion and salvation or justification.

It does not really matter how little faith we have like when the Apostles asked Jesus on the first Sunday of October, “Lord, increase our faith in God” (Lk. 17:5,Wk. 27). What matters is that we always have that option for God, a desire for God.

This is specially true as St. Paul assures us in the second reading that Christ will come again at the end of time. Nobody knows when or how he will come again but like Zacchaeus, we must have that desire for Jesus who first comes into our hearts before entering into our homes or churches, no matter how grandiose they may be.

Every desire for God in itself is an expression of faith in him. And God comes to those who truly seek him because that is how great God is: not in his power to do everything but to be small and forgiving!

Before the Lord, the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth. But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent. But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls.

Wisdom 11:22-23, 26
Inside the Catholic Parish of the Good Shepherd in Jericho, May 2019.

Like in the parable of the persevering widow and judge as well as that of the Pharisee and tax collector praying at the temple last Sunday, today’s story of Zacchaeus meeting Jesus shows us how God never abandons us his children, always ready to grant our desires and wishes even beyond what we are asking for — if we have faith in him.

Our salvation depends solely in our faith to God in Christ Jesus, like Abraham in the Old Testament that we can now rightly be called as his children like Zacchaeus.

No one is excluded from this tremendous grace of God brought to us through Jesus Christ who had come to seek those who are lost.

Like Zacchaeus upon receiving salvation from the Lord on that simple day, may we joyfully turn away from sins and most of all, cheerfully rid ourselves of so many other things that hamper us from following Jesus resolutely to Jerusalem. Amen.

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