Prayers for our Jewish brothers and sisters for their conversion to Adonai and the forgiveness of sin.
Do you ever wonder about the small man Zacchaeus, the tax collector, we hear about in the gospel? Is there something important that we ought to hear anew with the biblical narrative of Zacchaeus? What’s the point? Doing lectio divina and working on my spiritual life I have come realize it is not enough to know about Jesus, but like Zacchaeus to want to see the Lord. He wanted to meet Jesus. Little Zacchaeus wanted to meet the Person who answered the needs of his human heart.
The desire to see Jesus of Nazareth moves the heart in a most deep way even to the point of confusing us at times. Even to the point of climbing a tree, a childish behavior, Zacchaeus had to see Jesus pass by.
Obstacles in meeting the Lord are always present: family, friends, church and societal leaders, addictions, sin, a divided heart, ideology, etc. But the obstacles are not the final answer, nor a barrier that is insurmountable. God’s grace is available.
Jesus loved Zacchaeus when virtually no one loved him. Hence, the radical change in life for Zacchaeus; recall that he gave much of his assets away and followed Jesus. We ought to be eager as Zacchaeus was to make amends, to make a conversion of heart (that is, to confess our sin and life differently) and Jesus draws sinners to himself. I think of the Jews who just celebrated on Saturday the feast of Yom Kippur, a day of repentance and the conversion, recognizing the need to draw closer to God and to allow to draw closer to us.
Can we show the same mercy the Lord showed to Zacchaeus to others? In fact, this is the mission we have because of our Baptism and because we profess to be disciples of Him whose gaze upon us by changing us. Do I shield my gaze from the Lord and give it to distractions?
Zacchaeus hears Jesus’s words: TODAY, I must stay with you. In other words, Jesus says to him, and thus to us, can I show you love? Can I give you the words of repentance and new life? Can I walk, build and confess the Lord? The Lord tells us in this narrative that anything, really anything, is possible if you allow Him into your life.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria offers us a keen reflection:
“Zacchaeus was leader of the tax collectors, a man entirely abandoned to greed, whose only goal was the increase of his gains. This was the practice of the tax collectors, although Paul calls it idolatry, possibly as being suitable only for those who have no knowledge of God. Since they shamelessly, openly professed this vice, the Lord very justly joined them with the prostitutes, saying ‘The prostitutes and the tax collectors go before you into the kingdom of God.’ Zacchaeus did not continue to be among them, but he was found worthy of mercy at Christ’s hands. He calls near those who are far away and gives light to those who are in darkness.”
Our Lord teaches us to love and what it means to love; can Jesus be our guest? Is he allowed to enter our house? Can I build with a unified heart a “civilization of love”?
The Papal General Audience given in the Paul VI Hall today, Benedict spoke of the desire for unity that our Lord expressed in his priestly prayer at the Last Supper (John 17):
Against the backdrop of the Jewish feast of expiation Yom Kippur, Jesus, priest and victim, prays that the Father will glorify him in this, the hour of his sacrifice of reconciliation. He asks the Father to consecrate his disciples, setting them apart and sending them forth to continue his mission in the world. Christ also implores the gift of unity for all those who will believe in him through the preaching of the apostles.
Sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition and now echoed by Pope Benedict, believes that Christ’s priestly prayer is understood as His instituting the Church, the community of faith, the communio found explicitly in a church that is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Taking the Pauline manner of thinking, we are disciples of Christ who, through faith in Christ, are one and share in His saving mission:
In meditating upon the Lord’s priestly prayer, let us ask the Father for the grace to grow in our baptismal consecration and to open our own prayers to the needs of our neighbors and the whole world. Let us also pray, as we have just done in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, for the gift of the visible unity of all Christ’s followers, so that the world may believe in the Son and in the Father who sent him.