Guest asking for justice and love
The Son of the most holy God becomes flesh and stays at our house as a guest who saves. He wants us to repent.
Jesus teaches that it will be difficult for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. The Pharisees, for their part, consider tax collectors sinners that one should anathematize; one cannot be their guest. That is why one can say that Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and a wealthy man, faces a double risk of perdition.
Nevertheless, the one who, being short in stature, climbs a sycamore tree seeking to see Jesus receives a cordial treatment. Jesus tells him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” So, Jesus introduces himself just like that as an uninvited guest.
Perhaps, that is how Jesus concretizes his teaching, “The one who seeks, finds.” But surely, thus does he make clear that even the worst sinner is within the reach of the one who seeks and saves the lost. He still gives the opportunity to repent to someone who is or seems wholly detestable and irredeemable.
And the reality is that there are irreligious people who are entering the kingdom of God ahead of religious practitioners. The rich who have apparently passed through the eye of a needle are not few either. But whether the repentant are of the first group or the second, their conversion means commitment to the poor.
Indeed, welcoming Jesus as guest requires us to be in conformity with him and his teaching.
The beatitudes make up Jesus’ fundamental teaching. They also accurately describe what is essential in Jesus’ life and ministry. Hence, we who claim to be repentant prove ourselves through our conformity to the beatitudes. Living up to the beatitudes, we also show we are worthy of our calling.
Conformed to the beatitudes, we will let go of impiety and the wealth that make us uncaring. And the presence of our guest will be saving for us. Yes, welcoming Jesus as a guest is genuine to the extent that we lead a life of justice and love. In the house of sinners where he stays, Jesus does not leave things as he finds them. He wants those who welcome him as their guest to assist the poor also in every way (cf. SV.EN XII:77).
Before Jesus, we will always be short in stature, of course, or as a grain from a balance. But what difference does it make? It is enough that he declares that salvation has come to our house, because we too are descendants of the Father of believers. Welcoming Jesus as our guest in the person of the poor, we await the day when we will be his guests in the heavenly banquet.
Lord, allow us sinners to repent, so that the wicked exist no more.
October 30, 2016
31st Sunday in O.T. (C)
Wis 11, 23 – 12, 2; 2 Thes 1, 11 – 2, 2; Lk 19, 1-10