Vol: 43, No.57 31ST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR ( C) October 30 2016  

As a chief toll collector and viewed by his fellow townspeople as a sinner Zacchaeus certainly qualified as one of the disadvantaged to whom the Lucan Jesus was particularly sent. The dominant thought pattern in the Zacchaeus story is seeking, seeing, and salvation. Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus and even climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view. But Jesus noticed Zacchaeus in the tree and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house. Exactly as instructed, Zacchaeus made haste and descended and received Jesus joyfully. Once they arrived at the house, Jesus explained that on that day salvation had come to this house because Zacchaeus, too, was a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. He who sought to see Jesus was really sought, seen, and saved by him.
Zacchaeus also demonstrated a correct attitude towards wealth. The text does not explicitly say that he cheated anyone. After the encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus did distance himself from his wealth. He gave half of his goods to the poor, and although the normal recompense for money illegally acquired was that amount plus one fifth, Zacchaeus restored the amount plus a threefold penalty, thus he restored fourfold.
The story of Zacchaeus comes immediately after the story of the Rich Ruler (Lk 18:18-23), and comparing the two stories we can gain better insight into the story of Zacchaeus. Both men were powerful, and both were wealthy. The first kept all the commandments, and could be considered as righteous. But he could not do the “one thing remaining,” which was to hand over his life utterly to Jesus, and to signal that commitment by selling his possessions and giving them to the poor. Zacchaeus, in contrast, was regarded as a “sinner” by those accompanying Jesus because of his occupation as a chief toll-collector. But he was eager to receive Jesus with joy and he declared


his willingness to share his possessions with the poor, not as a single gesture but as a steady commitment. And far from being greedy, when he found any profit made on the basis of shady practice, he paid it back at the maximum demanded by the Law.

* * *

In Southern Bolivia, Sunday Mass is normally outdoors. The congregation sits on rough hewn plank benches. At the offertory procession four teenage boys march up to the altar carrying bread and wine, candles and water. One holds a rather large stone in his hands. When they reach the foot of the altar, they turn around and lift up the offertory gifts for all to see. Only one of them speaks, the youth holding the stone. He prays: “Father in heaven, this stone is also a gift from us. It represents us and our hearts. Enkindle in us warmth for one another and never allow us to become or remain hard like this stone. On the contrary, may we continue to spread light and life. We ask you to make us open to our neighbour. Help us to improve ourselves so that we may become good building stones in your Church.” After this prayer, the teenager puts the stone on the altar alongside the bread and the wine and asks the Lord that that stone which represents us humans and our hearts may be transformed just as the bread and the wine will be. (Courtesy: Willi Hoffsuemmer).
This edifying anecdote teaches us that there is a tendency in us that will justify everything, that things are going fine and there is no need to work for a change at the moment. So keep going for the time being. Experience teaches that procrastination is the thief of time. Zacchaeus did not procrastinate about a change of heart, he did it right in the presence of Jesus. He will always remain a prime example for all those who are looking for a change of heart.

– AK
October / November 2016 READINGS OF THE WEEK Psalter Week 3
31 Mon (G) Phil 2:1-4/ Ps 131:1-3/ Lk 14:12-14
01 Tue (W) ALL SAINTS, Solemnity, Rev 7:2-4, 9-14/ Ps 24:1-6/ 1 Jn 3:1-3/ Mt 5:1-12
02 Wed (V) ALL SOULS, Wis 3:1-9/ Rom 5:5-11 or Rom 6:3-9/ Jn 6:37-40
03 Thu (G) St Martin de Porres, Phil 3:3-8/ Ps 105:2-7/ Lk 15:1-10
04 Fri (G) St Charles Borromeo, Phil 3:17–4:1/ Ps 122:1-5/ Lk 16:1-8
05 Sat (G) Phil 4:10-19/ Ps 112:1-2, 5-6, 8-9/ Lk 16:9-15
Forthcoming Issues
Cycle C
Copyright © 2015 St Pauls India.