Today's Gospel: Luke 19, 1-10 - Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oh Zacchaeus…you wee little man!
Who hasn’t heard the Vacation Bible School song about Zacchaeus? I always thought it was such an awesome little ditty. Just like mom, just like daughters. They all learned the song, too!
Today, I was asking my 14 year old about Zacchaeus, without singing the song. She says,
“Momma, that’s the short little man who climbed in a tree, and then Jesus asked him to come down. For Jesus was going to his house for dinner.” Thank you, VBS!
What strikes me most about this Gospel is the insight into Jesus, and how He pursues us. He knows our heart, and pursues it without hesitation.
Sometimes we forget that the Gospel passage right before Zacchaeus has to do with the man who walks away from Our Lord sad because the Lord told him he would have to sell everything in order to be his disciple (See Luke 18). The man was very rich, and this realization was difficult to swallow.
Zacchaeus gives us the flip side of the same coin. Both men were rich. Probably both were pretty lonely – I mean, Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to see Jesus. Where were his friends?
But Zacchaeus' response stands in stark contrast to Luke 18.
As I was thinking of this verse, I kept thinking of myself as the sad man who went away from Jesus. How many times do I pray, discerning the most holy will of Our Lord? When He answers that prayer, I judge it is a difficult journey, and I walk away sad. It would take too much out of me; maybe it would take everything.
Sometimes these things seem to big…too scary…too impossible, and quite frankly, His plan makes me too vulnerable.
But Zacchaeus offers us a new way to respond to Jesus. Zacchaeus did not pretend to know what Jesus wanted. He made himself vulnerable to hear the Lord, and offered even more than was required. Zacchaeus entered more deeply into what the Lord was asking him to do. Zacchaeus was called down from the tree, and into the arms of Jesus Christ.
I think we all have that same opportunity. It takes deep virtue, including fortitude and obedience. These virtues, when practiced regularly, draw us to the most holy will of the Lord. And His Holy Will is what brings us to Heaven.
Perhaps pondering the wee little man, Zacchaeus, can help us develop those virtues needed to pursue the Lord and His will for our lives.
What is striking about Zacchaeus’ actions when he meets Jesus? In what ways are you like Zacchaeus? In what ways are you like the sad man in Luke 18? Think about how you are discerning God’s will right now in your life. Where is that discernment leading you? What does this reveal about Jesus? What virtues do you most need to develop to be vulnerable to God’s will? What Scripture passages help you to discern the will of God? How are they helpful?
How do I turn to You, my sweet Lord, and then have the fortitude to follow Your Holy Will?
Copyright 2016 Mary Wallace
About the Author
Mary Wallace, PhD, is a devout Catholic wife, mother of 4 daughters, and college administrator. She is co-host of a Catholic radio show: Faith and Good Counsel, on Baton Rouge Catholic Community Radio. Mary is also a contributing writer at the Integrated Catholic Life. Follow Mary on Facebook.