The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
What would you do if Jesus knocked on your door and said, “I must stay at your home today”? Would you be excited or embarrassed? Jesus often “dropped-in” at unexpected times and he often visited the “uninvited” – the poor, the lame, and even public sinners like Zacchaeus, the tax collector! Tax collectors were despised and treated as outcasts, no doubt because they over-charged people and accumulated great wealth at the expense of others.
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was much hated by all the people. Why would Jesus single him out for the honor of staying at his home? Zacchaeus needed God’s merciful love and forgiveness. In his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible. He shows the depth of his repentance by deciding to give half of his goods to the poor and to use the other half for making restitution for fraud. Zacchaeus’ testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine.
Faith welcomes Christ in our heart and home
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) urges us to climb the sycamore tree like Zacchaeus that we might see Jesus and embrace his cross for our lives:
Zacchaeus climbed away from the crowd and saw Jesus without the crowd getting in his way. The crowd laughs at the lowly, to people walking the way of humility, who leave the wrongs they suffer in God’s hands and do not insist on getting back at their enemies. The crowd laughs at the lowly and says, ‘You helpless, miserable clod, you cannot even stick up for yourself and get back what is your own.’ The crowd gets in the way and prevents Jesus from being seen. The crowd boasts and crows when it is able to get back what it owns. It blocks the sight of the one who said as he hung on the cross, ‘Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing…He ignored the crowd that was getting in his way. He instead climbed a sycamore tree, a tree of ‘silly fruit.’ As the apostle says, ‘We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block indeed to the Jews, [now notice the sycamore] but folly to the Gentiles.’Finally, the wise people of this world laugh at us about the cross of Christ and say, ‘“What sort of minds do you people have, who worship a crucified God?’ What sort of minds do we have? They are certainly not your kind of mind. ‘The wisdom of this world is folly with God.’ No, we do not have your kind of mind. You call our minds foolish. Say what you like, but for our part, let us climb the sycamore tree and see Jesus. The reason you cannot see Jesus is that you are ashamed to climb the sycamore tree.
Let Zacchaeus grasp the sycamore tree, and let the humble person climb the cross. That is little enough, merely to climb it. We must not be ashamed of the cross of Christ, but we must fix it on our foreheads, where the seat of shame is. Above where all our blushes show is the place we must firmly fix that for which we should never blush. As for you, I rather think you make fun of the sycamore, and yet that is what has enabled me to see Jesus. You make fun of the sycamore, because you are just a person, but ‘the foolishness of God is wiser than men.’[Sermon 174.3.]
The Lord Jesus is always ready to make his home with each one of us. Do you make room for him in your heart and in every area of your life?
“Lord Jesus, come and stay with me. Fill my life with your peace, my home with your presence, and my heart with your praise. Help me to show kindness, mercy, and goodness to all, even to those who cause me ill-will or harm.”
DIE AND LET LIVE
“I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.” —2 Maccabees 6:28
Jesus said: “Whoever loses His life for My sake will save it” (Lk 9:24). “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24). Eleazar gave a fabulous example to young people of how to live and die for the Lord (2 Mc 6:31). In the very next chapter of 2 Maccabees, seven young men were brutally tortured and martyred for their faith in God. Quite possibly these young men had heard the story of Eleazar’s faithfulness and courage under pressure and were inspired by his example. These martrys bore great fruit, as their shed blood was the seed that led to the renewal of the faith of Israel in the times of the Maccabees.
“None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we die as His servants. Both in life and death we are the Lord’s” (Rm 14:7-8). When we die as a member of the Body of Christ, our dying can bring the life of Jesus to the world (see 2 Cor 4:11-12). We pray frequently that the Blessed Virgin Mary would pray for us “now and at the hour of our death.” It might be that you may lead many more people to the Lord Jesus by the courageous, trusting manner of your death than by your holy and faithful life. Be an Eleazar. May your life and death be “a noble example” to all who hear of you (2 Mc 6:28).
Prayer: Father, “to me, ‘life’ means Christ; hence, dying is so much gain” (Phil 1:21). I give You My present and my future. Promise: “The Son of Man has come to search out and save what was lost. “—Lk 19:10 Praise: St. Elizabeth, queen of Hungary, loved the sick and so built a hospital at the foot of her castle. (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2015 through November 30, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 20, 2015.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements