“Restoring our faith and being revived by His Mercy!”
(Based on Wis 11:22-12:2, 2 Thes 1:11-2:2 and Lk 19:1-10 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C)
There is a story said about a carpenter, who had least botheration about his Christian faith.
His pious and devout wife would often exhort him to return to faith…
… but he cared least!
They would even often have fights over this issue.
Once, he left to the woods, to fell trees.
As he glanced around, he noticed a tree – dead and dry, with its leafless branches embracing the skies.
He said to himself, “That tree I will cut down. For it is dead and dry, fit only to burned!”
As he got himself ready with the axe, to chop down the tree…
… he heard a voice thundering within him, “Are you not also like this dead tree…. Fit only to be burned?”
He tried to banish away such thoughts…
… but the higher he lifted up the axe to cut the tree, the greater was the voice heard!
He went on to strike the tree a few times…
… but the thought kept flashing in his mind: “Will God ever tell me.. ‘Cut it down… fit only to be burned!”
Eventually, the thoughts became so great, that he fell on his knees…
… and pleaded with God, to receive him back.
The story goes on to say, that he went back to his wife and was reconciled to her…
… and had his faith restored in the Lord…
… revived by the Mercy of God!
Is my life like a dead tree….without spiritual energy and “fit only to be burned?”
… then the Lord today thunders in our hearts: To restore our faith and be revived in His Mercy!
The Gospel of the Day takes us through such a faith-restoring and mercy-experiential incident in the life of a little man – Zacchaeus
The story begins with Jesus coming to Jericho and intending to pass through the town (Lk 19:1)
Jericho has a long history, especially seen in the Old Testament.
Jericho was the first city to be conquered by the Israelites under Joshua. (Josh 6:1-27)
It was surrounded by a huge wall. However, with directives from God & under the leadership of Joshua, the city was laid siege.
On the appointed day, Joshua ordered the people to shout & the walls of the city collapsed and the Israelites destroyed it.
Joshua laid a curse on the one who would rebuild this city.
Thus, Jericho bore the brunt of a curse.
It is to this ‘place of curse’ that Jesus makes his entry.
As Jesus makes his entry to this cursed place, a little man named Zacchaeus climbs & hides himself behind the leaves of a tree.
Now this incident of Jesus entering an accursed city and a man hiding behind the leaves of a tree, has quite striking similarities with another incident, seen at the start of the Bible – the incident in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3)
In the book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned, God moved about in the garden.
But they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Gen 3: 8)
God comes to a place, which has been now cursed because of sin.
But two persons hide themselves in the trees of the garden.
Interesting similarity, isn’t it?
God comes to a place of curse… the Garden… and two persons (Adam and Eve) hide in the trees.
Jesus comes to a place of curse… the city of Jericho… and one person (Zacchaeus) hides in the trees.
But with the similarity, there are also striking differences…
Adam and Eve hid from God, in order to stay away from God, because of the guilt of sin.
Zacchaeus hid from Jesus, in order to see him better, because of his own complexes.
Adam and Eve were fearful to hear the words of God addressing them.
Zacchaeus was surprised and joyful to hear the words of Jesus addressed to him.
Adam and Eve wanted to remain hiding even after God sought for them in the garden.
Zacchaeus jumped down from the tree after Jesus sought to come to his home.
Is there some similarity of these incidents to my life too?
Am I, like Adam & Eve, hiding from God, because I am scared of Him due to some of the sins which I am unwilling to give up?
Or am I, like Zacchaeus, seeking refuge in the leaves of trees like money, pleasure, evil habits and yet have a desire to see the Lord?
The Lord is gazing at us… like He gazed at Adam and Eve and Zacchaeus.
Am I, like Adam & Eve, fearful to hear the words of God, in the Bible or through the teachings of the Church or the words of other people, because of the pain to get rid of my sinful tendencies and evil practices?
Or am I, like Zacchaeus, joyful to hear God’s words addressed to me, & also ready to make changes for a better spiritual life?
The Lord is addressing each one of us… like He addressed Adam and Eve and Zacchaeus.
Am I, like Adam & Eve, wanting to remain in my sinful and lethargic state of life even though I experience that God’s mercy and compassion is readily available?
Or am I, like Zacchaeus willing to jump down with joy, from the tree of pride, complexes, sin and fear, and welcome the Lord into the home of my life?
The Lord is seeking for us… as He sought Adam and Eve and Zacchaeus.
The Lord is gazing, addressing and seeking for us.
Am I ready to encounter, to listen and to be found by Him?
A Yes to the question, will also mean taking some radical decisions in our life, just like Zacchaeus did…
Giving up of possessions…
Letting go of my undue desire for money, cheap popularity, the riches in my life etc.
Repaying those whom I have cheated…
Forgiving and accepting those whom I hurt, whom I don’t like, whom I am not in good terms etc.
Zacchaeus was a despised man.
… because of his short stature.
… because as a tax collector, he worked for the enemy-government and would cheat and defraud people.
… because Jesus came to his house – a house of a sinner.
But the encounter with Jesus made him a transformed person
The encounter with Jesus made him to go beyond all complexes and filled him with deep joy!
This same transformation is at hand for us…
Let, us, learn from the little man and make significant changes in our life, in order to experience the magnanimous wonders and graces from our Big God!
Maybe our life is like a dead tree….without spiritual energy and “fit only to be burned!”
The Lord today thunders in our hearts: To restore our faith and be revived in His Mercy!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE EUCHARIST IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION – THE FRUITS OF HOLY COMMUNION
Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, “have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.”
It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible. However these ecclesial communities, “when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper… profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory.”
When, in the Ordinary’s judgment, a grave necessity arises, Catholic ministers may give the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who ask for them of their own will, provided they give evidence of holding the Catholic faith regarding these sacraments and possess the required dispositions. (CCC # 1400-1401)