Wisdom 11:22—12:2/Psalm 145:1-2,8-9,10-11,13,14/2 Thessalonians 1:11—2:2/Luke 19:1-10
Be available for salvation
Today the gospel presents to us the story of Zacchaeus he was a rich tax collector, rich at the detriment of the people. For this reason tax collectors were not loved. Zacchaeus is a sinner, Jesus seeks him out, Zacchaeus repents and has a ‘firm purpose of amendment,’ Jesus forgives him and now one who was lost is saved. The mission of Christ is that all should be saved. Therefore salvation is for all; but only those who make themselves available beyond all odds shall be saved. This odds manifest in different ways; it can come as crowd that may cloud us from seeing Jesus, others ways includes materialism, intellectualism, immoralities (fornication, adultery, abortion etc), idolatry, power and pride.
The first reading tells us that God is merciful to all and he loves all things that exist. This mercy of God is further exposed when the Psalmist says He is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in mercy, He is good to all and compassionate to all his creatures. Zacchaeus was found by mercy. While God was slow to anger showing mercy to Zacchaeus; the crowd took to anger and complained about Jesus attitude with sinners. Beloved in Christ, if God is slow to anger it will be dangerous for us to be quick to anger. We are told that he loves all that he created. We are created in his image and likeness and one of the likeness of God is mercy and so the bible says in Luke 6:36 be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful.
Again, we are told in verse 7 of the Gospel that “They all murmured when they saw what was happening. “He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house”. This ‘murmur’ was as a result of a judgment based on appearance. For them it was scandalous that Jesus will be with a sinner. In Matt. 9:10-17, Mark 2:15-22,Luke 5:29-39 the Pharisees murmured that Christ eats with tax collectors and sinners. Today, people have not stop murmuring about the actions of Christ. some people continue to murmur and gossip when a priest is in the company of certain people, when a priest stands with a girl – trouble, when he stands with a woman – trouble; when he stands with a boy – trouble; when he stands with an old man – trouble; when stands with a kid – trouble. Trouble because whenever he stands he is misinterpreted and whenever he seats he is misunderstood. Who then will he now minister to?
The priest is another Christ, and so whenever you murmur against your priest you murmur against Christ. In Numbers 12 when Miran and Aaron spoke murmur against Moses God punished them. anytime you murmur against your priest; you murmur against God. Therefore, beloved in Christ let us practice looking into a person’s heart. The closer we follow Jesus, the more we are able to see into someone’s heart. The people saw a sinner but Jesus saw a willing soul and the bible says there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine others who have no need for repentance.
Lastly, Zacchaeus said “ I will half of my goods to the poor and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”This is called Restitution, in fact to say fourfold he went far beyond what was legally necessary. Restitution in moral theology signifies an act of commutative justice by which exact reparation as far as possible is made for an injury that has been done to another. This means returning to its rightful owner whatever had been unjustly taken from that person. However, sometimes certain things cannot be restored, therefore, restitution in general means making reparation for a wrong done. This reparation is done either by returning what had been taken or by some other form of compensation.
Restitution is binding in conscience because a person who does not make restitution when he is able to do so remains a thieve or a sinner. Therefore, we cannot come to confession and ask for absolution for an item we stole that is still under our possession and we are not even willing to return it to the rightful owner. For example; you stole a car; the next thing is to come to confession and do penance without returning the car when you know you can do so. Such sin is not forgiving until you have returned the car or make it available for the owner. Beloved in Christ, the act of Zacchaeus simply means that no sin can be pardoned without sincere contrition and a firm purpose of amendment. We pray through this sacrifice of the mass that when we turn to Christ, we will fully and firmly amend our ways.
Fr. Dan Evbotokhai