Reflections on Scripture Thirty-first Sunday Gospel C

By 2:38 PM

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. The journey from Galilee to Jerusalem took him through the town of Jericho. This was the town that Joshua and the Israelites conquered as they entered the Promised Land. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. 
Being a tax collector marked him as one who was disliked by the local people. His wealth came from the additional commissions he was able to keep from the taxes of the people.
He must have heard of Jesus’ reputation. He may have even known Matthew, who was a tax collector before becoming a disciple of Jesus. He was curious to see Jesus.
The primacy of grace is at play here. Without knowing it, he was being motivated by God to seek to see Jesus.
The irony is that Zacchaeus sought with great effort to see Jesus, only to discover that Jesus was seeking him.
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."
How did Jesus know his name? Was it a word of knowledge? Had they met before? If so, why would Luke say: "he was seeking to see who Jesus was?"
The grace of salvation was prepared for by the grace of wanting to see who Jesus was. Zacchaeus responds to the different graces he is receiving.

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."
Zacchaeus is known to the local people who have also heard that Jesus was passing through their town. They have no kind words for him, for in their eyes he was a public sinner. For Jesus to stay at his house was contrary to their understanding of the Law.
How often do we judge others from their public life?

But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "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."
As Matthew left his past behind him, Zacchaeus is willing to do the same.
The first step to discipleship is acknowledgment of sin, repentance and a firm decision to turn away from sin and to turn to Jesus.

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."
God gives the initial grace, we respond to that grace and God grants us salvation.
How many people at the same scene had received a similar grace but did not respond to it and as a result did not experience the mercy of Jesus?
How often have we not responded to the grace from God which would have brought us to a deeper relationship with God? What blocked us? Sin? Fear? Lack of trust? Shame?
How do we apply the lesson of this event to our life?

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