Lectio Divina. Tuesday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time.
Author: Order of Carmlites | Source: www.ocarm.org
1) Opening prayer
Father of all that is good,
keep us faithful in serving you,
for to serve you is our lasting joy.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Luke 19,1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd; so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today.'
And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully.
They all complained when they saw what was happening. 'He has gone to stay at a sinner's house,' they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, 'Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.'
And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost.'
• In today’s Gospel we are reaching the end of the long journey which began in chapter 9 (Lk 9, 51). During the journey, it was not easy to know the way Jesus was following. It was only known that he was going toward Jerusalem! Now at the end, the geography was clear and definite. Jesus reaches Jericho, the city of the palm trees, in the Valley of Jordan. The last stop of the pilgrims, before going up toward Jerusalem! He went to Jericho where the long road of exodus of 40 years in the desert ended. The exodus of Jesus was also ended. In entering into Jericho, Jesus meets a blind man who wanted to see him (Lk 18, 35-43). Now in going out of the city, he meets Zacchaeus, a tax collector: he also wants to see him. A blind man and a Publican. Both of them were excluded. Both of them bothered and disturbed the people: the blind man because he was shouting out to Jesus, the Publican because of the taxes. Both are accepted by Jesus, each one in his own way.
• Luke 19, 1-2: The situation. Jesus enters into Jericho and crosses the city. “And behold a man whose name was Zacchaeus, head of the tax collectors and a rich man”. The tax collector was the person who collected the public taxes on selling and buying of merchandise. Zacchaeus was the head of the tax collectors in the city. He was very rich and closely linked to the system of domination of the Romans. The more religious Jews argued in this way: “The king of our people is God. Therefore, the dominion of the Romans on us is against God. Anyone who collaborates with the Romans, sins against God!” Thus, the soldiers who served in the Roman army and the tax collectors, like Zacchaeus, were excluded and avoided because they were considered sinners and impure.
• Luke 19, 3-4: The attitude of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus. But being small, he ran ahead and climbed on a tree and waited for Jesus to go by. He really had a great desire to see Jesus! Before in the parable of the poor Lazarus and of the rich man who has no name (Lk 16, 19-31), Jesus had said that it was truly very difficult for a rich person to be converted and to open the door that separates him from accepting poor Lazarus. Here we have a rich man who does not close himself up in his riches. Zacchaeus wants something more. When an adult, a person who is prominent in the city, climbs up on a tree, it is because he does not care much about the opinion of others. Something more important moves him inside. He wants to open the door for poor Lazarus.
• Luke 19, 5-7: Attitude of Jesus, reaction of the people and of Zacchaeus. Getting and seeing Zacchaeus on the tree, Jesus does not ask nor does he demand anything. He only responds to the desire of the man and says: “Zacchaeus come down, hurry because I am to stay at your home today!” Zacchaeus gets down and receives Jesus, in his house, with great joy, “All complained: He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house!” Luke says that all complained! That signifies that Jesus was remaining alone in his attitude of accepting the excluded, especially the collaborators of the system. But Jesus does not care about the criticism. He goes to the house of Zacchaeus and defends him from the criticism. Instead of calling him sinner, he calls him “son of Abraham” (Lk 19, 9).
• Luke 19, 8: Decision of Zacchaeus. “Look, Lord, I am going to give half of my property to the poor; and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount!” This is the conversion produced in Zacchaeus because of the acceptance that he received from Jesus. To give back four times was what the law prescribed to do in certain cases (Ex 21, 37; 22, 3). To give half of my possessions to the poor was the novelty which the contact with Jesus produced in him. In fact, sharing was taking place.
• Luke 19, 9-10: Final word of Jesus. “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham”. The interpretation of the Law by means of the ancient Tradition excluded the tax collectors from the race of Abraham. Jesus says that he comes to seek and save what was lost. The Kingdom is for all. Nobody can be excluded. The choice of Jesus is clear, and also his call: It is not possible to be Jesus’ friend and continue to support a system which marginalizes and excludes so many people. By denouncing the unjust divisions, Jesus opens the space to a new way of living together, directed by the new values of truth, of justice and of love.
• Son of Abraham. "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham!” Through being a descendant of Abraham all nations of earth will be blessed (Gn 12, 3; 22, 18).It was very important for Luke’s communities, formed by Christians, both of Jewish and of Pagan origin, the affirmation that Jesus calls Zacchaeus “son of Abraham”. In this we find the confirmation of the fact that in Jesus, God was fulfilling the promises made to Abraham, addressed to all nations, both to Jews and to gentiles. They are also sons of Abraham and heirs of the promises. Jesus accepts those who were not accepted. He offers a place to those who do not have it. He receives as brothers and sisters the persons whom the religion and the government excluded and considered:
- immoral: the prostitutes and the sinners (Mt 21,31-32; Mk 2,15; Lk 7, 37-50; Jn 8, 2-11),
- heretic: pagans and Samaritans (Lk 7, 2-10; 17,16; Mk 7, 24-30; Jn 4, 7-42),
- impure: lepers and possessed (Mt 8, 2-4; Lk 17,12-14; Mk 1, 25-26),
- marginalized: women, children and the sick (Mk 1,32; Mt 8,16;19,13-15; Lk 8, 2-3),
- fighters: publicans and soldiers (Lk 18, 9-14;19,1-10);
- the poor: the people of the place and the poor who had no power (Mt 5, 3; Lk 6, 20; Mt 11,25-26).
4) Personal questions
• How does our community accept the persons who are despised and marginalized? Are we capable, like Jesus to perceive the problems of persons and to give them some attention?
· How do we perceive salvation today entering into our house and into our community? The welcoming tenderness of Jesus produced a total change in the life of Zacchaeus. Is the tenderness of our community producing some change in the neighbourhood? Which one?
5) Concluding prayer
With all my heart I seek you,
do not let me stray from your commandments.
In my heart I treasure your promises,
to avoid sinning against you. (Ps 119,10-11)