GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY – 30TH OCTOBER 2016
GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY (based on Catholic Liturgical Readings)
DATE: 30TH OCTOBER 2016
31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
1ST READING: Wisdom 11:22 – 12:2
PSALM: Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14
2ND READING: 2Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2
GOSPEL: Luke 19:1-10
THEME: MERCY SAYS, “COME DOWN FROM THE TREE”
A world of secularism and consumerism seeks to make us believe that happiness is dependent on how many material things one has and how much earthly power one wields. However, many materially rich people attest that there is a certain hunger in each one of us that no earthly wealth or power can satisfy. Fleeting treasures may offer fleeting pleasures but do not meet the deepest needs of the human person.
Of the four Gospels, the story of Zacchaeus is narrated only by Luke. The narration introduces this man in these words, “And behold, there was a man called by the name of Zacchaeus; and he was a chief tax-gatherer, and he was rich” (Lk. 19:2).
As chief tax collector, he was probably the head of a taxing district in charge of other collectors. He was thus a prominent person. There was a general perception among Jews, on account of the following reasons, that tax collectors were sinners:
1. In collecting taxes, they had frequent contacts with gentiles and per the standards of the Pharisees, that would amount to ritual defilement.
2. They were branded as traitors since they were at the service of the Roman empire.
3. They were noted for extortion, often taking more than the required tax amount for their personal gains.
Zacchaeus must have been very rich. For him to have decided to give half of his wealth to the poor as the narration progresses and still have enough to make a fourfold restitution to anyone he might have defrauded meant that this man was really “loaded” with material wealth. In sum, he had it all. He was prominent and powerful. He had all that the world says would make him happy and yet he was not happy.
The image of Zacchaeus on a tree searching for Jesus is an efficacious reminder that money and earthly positions can never meet the hunger of the soul. As St. Augustine would say, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”
Of particular interest is the attitude of Jesus towards Zacchaeus. He does not call him a sinner, unlike the others in the narrative. Rather, he calls him by name, “Zacchaeus”, and refers to him as “son of Abraham”. Additionally, he takes the initiative and goes to his home.
In the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus, we see mercy in action. This is beautifully articulated in the First Reading, “You are merciful to all, for you can do all things, and you overlook people’s sins, so that they may repent. For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made, for you would not have made anything if you had hated it” (Wis 11:23-24).
Mercy sees the good in us and not the evil around us. Mercy sees our hurt and pain. Mercy desires to set us free. Jesus turns to everyone who is sincerely searching for salvation and happiness and says, “Come down; for I must stay at your house today.” Come down from a life of serving material wealth and allow material wealth to serve you. Come down from a state of restlessness and hopelessness and embrace a life of rest in Jesus and hope for tomorrow.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the true face of mercy, we turn to you and cry out, “Kyrie eleison”.
Andrews Obeng, svd
DIVINE WORD MISSIONARIES
BIBLICAL PASTORAL MINISTRY
“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. And may the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all people” (St. Arnold Janssen).