Tuesday, November 17, 2015

“God has not given us the spirit of fear. So imagine where your fear is coming from.”

“Journeying is precisely the art of looking toward the horizon, thinking where I want to go but also enduring the fatigue of the journey, which is sometimes difficult. … There are dark days, even days when we fail, even days when we fall … but always think of this: Don’t be afraid of failures. Don’t be afraid of falling.” – Pope Francis
Gospel Text: (Lk 19:1-10)
At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“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.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”
Zacchaeus is a rich collector of taxes. Each of us, like him, is attached to worldly things. Zacchaeus, like you, wants to see who Jesus is. But Zacchaeus has two strikes against him.
The first strike against Zacchaeus is the crowd, because everyone wants to see Jesus. It’s easy to get lost and not to be loved in the crowd. One might ask himself, “How can Jesus love everyone?” The second strike against Zacchaeus is his small size, which may represent the size of our soul. One might feel unworthy of God’s love, and ask himself, “How could Jesus love little old me?”
So Zacchaeus climbs up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus. This is all Zacchaeus wants: to see Jesus. But that’s not enough for Jesus.
Here’s the turning point in this gospel passage. When Jesus reached the place where Zacchaeus had climbed the tree, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly; for today I must stay at your house.” Jesus takes the initiative to reach out to this individual. And just as he reached out to this little sinner, he is trying to reach into your life.
As part of this encounter with Christ, Zacchaeus receives the gifts of faith and love freeing him from his self-centered focus on amassing wealth. He puts Christ at the center of his life which frees Zacchaeus to imitate Christ's mercy and love by giving to the poor and making restitution to those he may have cheated.

So much can be learned from this gospel account. We learn that even though we are unworthy of Christ's attention, he will seek us out and he will stay with us. If we choose to acknowledge His loving presence, we will be freed of our self-centered focus and able to share his abundant love with others.

" 'Don't be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything,' We hear many offers from the world around us, but let us take up God's offer instead: his is is a caress of love." [Taken from: The Church of Mercy; a Vision for the Church by Pope Francis.]

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