Zacchaeus, come down, I want to have
dinner with you! -Homily
October 30, 2016
It was not by chance that Jesus went to Jericho.
He intended to pass through the town. Jericho
is a sign of sin, of human kind in need of forgiveness and salvation. Jesus
came to save what was lost, he came to save sinners, and the best way he found
to save sinners was to approach them. He could have forgiven us all from
heaven, by just a word of his mouth. He could have put on gloves to touch our dirt, he could have sent us a
check from his home, he could have shipped his forgiveness in a beautiful card…
he could have avoided us, he could have avoided the
loathsome leprosy of our sins. Instead, he preferred to come down, he preferred
to engage us, he preferred to show his love by his physical presence among us.
He preferred to show his love with his blood. He preferred to weep for us in
our presence. He preferred to work, eat and sleep like one of us, he preferred
to walk among us, and suffer the same death that we will suffer. And when he
rose from the dead, he did not escape back to heaven: “Ah, finally I can get
rid of them.” After his resurrection, he appeared to us, and he stayed with us
for forty days, so that we may rejoice that his triumph will also be our
triumph. He went to heaven then, yes, but he remained with us in the Eucharist,
so that nobody in the history may ever feel that God is not with him, or that
God does not want to touch him. God loves us, God wants to be with us, God is with us, even within us.
Jesus went to Jericho
looking for Zacchaeus. He knew perfectly what he was
doing. He was looking for the worse of them. Jesus knew Zacchaeus,
and he knew that Zacchaeus would try to see him if he
came closer to him. Jesus came close looking for him, Zacchaeus
went up to see him, Jesus called him by name and asked him to come down, and
told him that he wanted to have dinner with him: “I want to have dinner with
you. Yes, with you, the most loathsome of sinners, the most in need of my sons.
I want you for me, I love you. Open your heart to me.” Zacchaeus
could not resist the invitation, and repented of all his sins. Zacchaeus does not respond: “O yes, please, come to my home to have a meal.” Zacchaeus
opens, not his home, but his heart to Jesus. Zacchaeus
takes away from his heart everything that is not pleasing to his honourable guest: his injustice, his past sins. That is why
he says: “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and
if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” That is exactly what Jesus wanted. Jesus
rejoices with him and says: “Today salvation has come to this house: I came to
seek and to save what was lost.”
It is a beautiful Gospel. Because it shows clearly what mercy really means.
Jesus loves us despite of our sins, insofar as he takes the first step to
forgive us. He comes close to the sinner, so that the sinner may be confident
and approach him when he asks for forgiveness. Jesus comes closer to us because
he wants us to repent and so come closer to him. Salvation enters our home only
when we repent. Jesus wants us to repent. But what he uses to make us repent is
not a rebuke, but an offer of love: “Come down, I want to have dinner with you.
Come down, you are too far from me on that tree, you are too far from me with
your sins. Come down to me, who came close to you, so that we can have dinner
together, so that you can receive me as your bread. I came down from heaven and
climbed on a tree (the tree of the cross), not to see you from afar, but to
save you from your sins. Come closer, I want to have dinner with you.” The way Jesus
conquers our heart is by his cross: he climbs on the tree so that we may also
look up, see him and tell him: “Come down, my Lord, do not suffer any more for
me, I repent from my sins. O my Lord, have dinner with
May the Lord give us the grace of being good Zacchaeus. But also, may we
be good Jesus for the Zacchaeus we find on our way.
Let us love them first, so that they may repent. Let us forgive them, let us be
patient with them. It is not our job to condemn what is lost, but to save it,
before the Lord comes. May the Lord grant us the grace of helping many people
to repent and come close to the Lord. –Fr. Andrew
reminder that we have our first Youth Retreat Saturday, November 5th.
Beginning at 3:30 pm and
ending at 9:00 pm.
We meet in the Parish Centre.
The day will include:
of prayerful reflection
for young people.
Please make an effort to attend!
If you have a friend (13-19) who is interested in
attending please let me know.
God Bless, Fr. Gerardus