Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on November 10, 2022 View all Gospel Reflection

Zacchaeus sure did come down quickly when Jesus asked him to because Jesus said, “for today I must stay at your house.”

“House” may also be taken in the spiritual sense for our souls, our “spiritual house” as it were. In the “today” of salvation, Jesus seeks to enter this “house” to be the guest of honor, to transform our lives, every time we receive Holy Communion with the proper dispositions.

Zacchaeus went up that tree to see Jesus because he was short in stature and could not see Jesus otherwise.

Examination of first-century burial remains in Galilee indicate that the average adult Jewish man was five feet five inches. Zacchaeus was probably just under five feet tall.

But he was the tallest one up there in that Sycamore Tree.

If it had not been for that other Tree at Calvary – Where would we be?

What is our Sycamore Tree that we have to climb?

For me it’s time in Church before the Blessed Sacrament. Like Zacchaeus, I just got to put myself in God’s path. The message is to put ourselves where God is. We are so blessed to have Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration Chapels, or inside a tabernacle in our churches. We have this accessibility to put ourselves kneeling on a pew or in our room to where he will see us.

If he did not climb that tree, Zacchaeus would have been lost in the crowd and so are we if believe that adoration of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist is a dispensable exercise or that the only reason the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle is to provide Holy Communion for those who are sick or unable to receive by coming personally to Church. In this Gospel the crowd functions as a blocking force. This is clearest in v. 7 when “all” grumble at Jesus’ decision to stay with Zacchaeus, because he is a “sinner. Don’t let that bad theology and a misrepresentation of Church teaching prevent you from coming in contact with Jesus.

Although Zacchaeus knew he would never be popular as a tax collector, especially being the chief tax collector, he did not have quit his job.

Luke 3:12-13 says, “Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to [John the Baptist], “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”

Zacchaeus stood his ground in working in an occupation, which critics say is devoid of any judicial basis.

It is Zacchaeus’s recognition of what he is as a tax collector and what he owes and what he might contribute to the flourishing of his community. You have a part to play in this too, Jesus tells him.

But you’re going to need to let go of that story you told yourself so you can recognize what you can do to make things right.

Zacchaeus probably thought:

“It isn’t necessary for [others] to like me to save my life, and I don’t need to like them for me to be saving their lives.”

Zacchaeus needs them to make his financial restitution.

And the poor needed him because Zacchaeus said, “Behold, half my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor.”

Notice Zacchaeus let the Lord speak for him. It was Jesus who responded to the crowds for Zacchaeus. Jesus himself vindicates Zacchaeus’ good name. “Salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham,” Jesus told everybody there.

Make an opportunity for yourselves to put yourself where Jesus will see you.