Gospel: (Luke 19:1-10)
A man named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see Jesus, but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 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 said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, 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.”
In this gospel we see an aspect of prayer that is creative in diligently seeking out God. Most of us don’t have to be so creative or go to the extreme of climbing a tree to encounter Jesus. However, this gospel forewarns us that we ought not be complacent in our spiritual lives. We go to Mass every Sunday and encounter Jesus; we might think this is sufficient. Zacchaeus reminds us that we must also be willing to change and grow, and to be vigilant about our relationships with others. Creativity in seeking Jesus might mean that we are innovative in our personal prayer life rather than continually reciting the prayers we might have learned long ago. Zacchaeus encourages us to ask: What prayers might better meet our spiritual needs now? (Living Liturgy, p.236)
This passage of St. Luke’s gospel is a study in the attitude of acceptance and non-acceptance. Zacchaeus accepts our Lord joyfully and the sign of his acceptance is his open house and his resolution to give half of his goods to the poor. Outside the house we have non-acceptance, the crowd protesting and murmuring because Jesus had accepted Zacchaeus with all his defects, physical and spiritual. There may be particular people whom we do not accept, or to whom we manifest an attitude of coldness and reserve. In this we are not like Christ. So often in our contacts with others we set up in our minds conditions for accepting people or rejecting them. May Christ lower the barriers of prejudice in our minds and open our hearts, not only to the poor, but to those whom we would exclude through personal dislike. (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p. 647-48)
Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
In what ways are we accepting or non-accepting of others?
For the grace to be creative in seeking Jesus,
-Lord, hear our prayer.
For the grace to let go of our prejudices,
-Lord, hear our prayer.