Tree Climbing

Posted on October 25, 2022 by Published by

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time–Year C 

The hero of this Sunday’s Gospel, Zacchaeus the chief tax collector, was considered a great—but short—sinner. This, however, did not stop Zacchaeus from seeking out Jesus. Like the crowd in today’s Gospel, we might be surprised that Jesus was delighted to meet Zacchaeus. We can imagine that Jesus must have been smiling to himself as he looked up at Zacchaeus, sitting in the Sycamore tree, waiting for Him to pass by. Zacchaeus was a smart and wealthy businessman, so he knew where to find solutions. He knew that if he wanted to see Jesus, then he would have to do something a little crazy or seemingly foolish to do it. This great sinner paid no attention to what other people thought of him: this eager little man, with a big heart, climbed a sycamore tree to seek Jesus. And when Jesus found him, he told Zacchaeus: “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”

Can you imagine how Zacchaeus must have felt when he heard Jesus speak to him? The Gospel said that he was filled with joy, and he ran down quickly to receive Jesus into his home. He also gave half of his possessions to the poor and paid any extortions four times over. Would you have run so quickly to receive Jesus? Did you come quickly to Our Lady of the Wayside today in anticipation and excitement to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist?

Great sinners and the great saints both have something in common: an insatiable longing to be fulfilled and loved. In a sinner, this longing is misdirected toward the world. In the saint, however, this longing is directed toward God. Both are willing to give up what is necessary in order that their desire might be fulfilled. Today Zacchaeus discovered that only in Christ Jesus could his desire be filled, and only by Him can this longing be satisfied. What about you? In whom or in what do you seek fulfillment? And what “sycamore trees” are you willing to climb—what are you willing to give up—in order to encounter the One Who Loves you?

Yours in Christ,
Father Arthur

Readings for the thirty-first week in Ordinary Time: Lectionary 153

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