Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

Kuwait City – 3rd November 2013
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Wis 11:22-12:2; Thes 1:11-2:2; Lk 19:1-10
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector or commissioner, a man in charge of gathering duties for the Roman occupying authorities in Palestine of that time and therefore hated by the people who considered him equal to a thief or murderer. When he heard that Jesus was passing through Jericho, he eagerly wanted to meet him. Since he was short in stature “he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus”. How prepared are we to run ahead to our parish church, or even climb a hill if necessary to reach a shrine just to meet Jesus and recognize him in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist?
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”” While everyone else hated and shunned Zacchaeus, thinking that he could never be saved, Jesus surprisingly showed interest in him. This is why he said “come down quickly”. Zacchaeus was invited to step down from the high “throne” that estranged him from God and men, in order to come down to earth again through humility and thereby personally meet Jesus. Christ indeed came into the world for the sake of sinners. What Jesus said to Zacchaeus at that time is the same message he tells us now “today I must stay at your house”. From these words we can understand how much God cares about mankind, especially sinners, and how he wants to come to us today, in order to stay in our home, in the dwelling place of our hearts, as our most favoured guest who wishes to remain with us forever.
Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I shall repay it four times over.” The encounter with Jesus changed Zacchaeus. The tax collector and extortionist turned into a generous donor, who confirmed his conversion not only by his words but more importantly through his deeds.
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.” Zaccheaus, though a short man, became very big before the Lord by courageously accepting through faith, the gift of salvation offered by Jesus and then changing his ways. Zaccheaus became a “little big man” by believing in Jesus. The American actor Dustin Hoffman starred in the 1970 film titled “Little Big Man”. In the movie, he was given this name because he was short but very brave. Let us therefore not delay nor fear opening up our hearts with faith today to the Lord. Though we may be little before the Lord due to our sinfulness, we can become big men and women by living a new life in communion with Jesus! Salvation can also come to us when we let ourselves be found by Christ the Lord and allow him to visit the home of our hearts!
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