Nov 3, 2019 - 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Wis 11:22–12:2; 2 Thes 1:11–2:2; Lk 19:1-10)

Today salvation has come to this house. (Luke 19:9)

Today’s Gospel paints a vivid picture of Zacchaeus the tax collector—wealthy, despised, and also very short—trying unsuccessfully to see through a crowd. He climbs a tree just to get a look at Jesus. It must have been an astonishing and amusing sight to see such a prominent person doing something so silly. You can just imagine the grin on Jesus’ face as he looks up and sees Zacchaeus’ irrepressible, childlike enthusiasm. Then that enthusiasm turns to joy when Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house. Inspired by Jesus’ warm words of acceptance, Zacchaeus promises to give half of his wealth to the poor and more than repay the people he has extorted.

After Jesus moved on, the hard work would have begun for Zacchaeus. If he gave away his money, he would have to learn how to live with less. He would have to fight the temptation to return to his dishonest methods of collecting taxes. He would have to earn the trust and friendship of his fellow townsfolk. Surely all of this was less fun than that initial life-altering encounter with Jesus. He may have had trouble maintaining his enthusiasm.

t’s okay to not always feel excited about life as a follower of Jesus. Our faith journey can be like a long, successful marriage that starts out with the magic and passion of an early romance and develops into something calmer but deeper and more meaningful. There’s no getting around the fact that our relationship with Jesus requires hard work sometimes. But it’s good to know that he is always with us, ready to give us the grace we need.

Our attempts to follow Jesus don’t have to be big, splashy gestures like Zacchaeus’ initial response. Change will be gradual, and there will be setbacks, but with Jesus’ help, our efforts will bear fruit.