31st Sunday in O.T. (José Antonio Pagola)

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CAN I CHANGE?

Luke narrates the episode of Zacchaeus so that his readers may better discover what they can expect of Jesus: the Lord they invoke and follow in the Christian communities has come to seek and save what was lost. They must never forget it.

At the same time, his story of Zacchaeus’ behavior is helpful to answering the question that not a few people carry within: Can I still change? Is it not already too late to remake a life that, for the most part, has been wasted? What steps can I take?

Zacchaeus is described with two qualities that define his life with precision. He is a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man. In Jericho, everyone knows that he is a sinner. He is a man who serves money rather than God. His life, like so many other lives, hardly has human dignity.

Yet Zacchaeus is seeking to see Jesus. It is not mere curiosity. He wants to know who he is, what secret this Prophet has that he attracts people so much. This is not an easy task for a man who is settled on living in his own world. But his life will change because of his desire for Jesus.

The man will have to overcome different obstacles. He is short in stature, mainly because his life does not have very noble ideals for motives. The people are another impediment: he will have to overcome social prejudices that make it difficult for him to have a personal and responsible encounter with Jesus.

But Zacchaeus continues his quest simply and sincerely. He runs to get ahead of the crowd, and climbs a tree like a child. He does not think of his dignity as an important person. He only wants to find the moment and the adequate place to make contact with Jesus. He wants to see Jesus.

That is when he discovers that Jesus also is looking for him, for Jesus goes to that place, looks up and says something like, “The encounter will be this very day at your house, the house of a sinner.” Zacchaeus comes down and receives him in his house full of joy. There are decisive moments when Jesus passes through our life because he wants to save what we are wasting. We should not let these moments slip away.

Luke does not describe the encounter. He only speaks of Zacchaeus’ transformation. His way of looking at life changes: he no longer thinks only of his money, but of the sufferings of others. His lifestyle changes: he will do right by those he has exploited and will share his goods with the poor.

We all run the risk, sooner or later, of “settling on” a life of renunciation of every aspiration to improve the quality of life of human beings. We believers have to know that a more authentic encounter with Jesus can make our life more human and can lead us, above all, to a life of greater solidarity.

October 30, 2016
31st Sunday in O.T. (C)
Luke 19, 1-10

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