31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C


Wis. 11:22-12:2; 2 Thes. 1:11-2:2; Lk. 19:1-10

The first reading from the Book of Wisdom tells us: “For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made…you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls… Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sin they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O Lord!” Mesopotamian mythology, especially the Sumerian text, teaches that the gods created the humans to do the menial works for them, that is, to be servants and even slaves. The Bible, on the contrary, explicitly says, “You love all things that are, and loathe nothing that you have made.” God created the human kind out of love, to share his very gifts with them, for “he made man in his image and likeness” and “redeemed him by the precious blood of Jesus his Son.” God is not a punisher with a whip in hand ready to strike whenever we sin, rather in love, he waits patiently until we leave behind our sins and turn back to him. Being the Good Shepherd, he searches for the lost sheep. That is the story of Zacchaeus (in Hebrew Zakai). As chief tax collector, he was wealthy but was considered a traitor because he was taking from his people to enrich the foreign invaders, the Romans. His desire to see Jesus was not because he was a religious man, but because he was curious. He could not enter the house of anyone along the road, he would be repudiated. So he climbed a sycamore tree. From his vintage point, he saw Jesus clearly and was rewarded even more greatly because Jesus looked up to him and called him by name and said he was going to his house today as his guest. Jesus has a task to fulfill with sinners, and he proceeds this way; he comes knocking at our door asking to come in to eat at our table. It was a joy for Zacchaeus, but a scandal for the others. Where am I in this: with joy like Zacchaeus or scandalized like the others? Like Zacchaeus, let us welcome the Lord with joy.This action of Jesus produced a transformation in the soul of the sinner as was the freedom from attachment to wealth. The promise Zacchaeus made, was for the future; its completion was to be the proof that his conversion was authentic. Giving half of his possessions to the poor was a very high grade of voluntary donation; paying fourfold as restitution was greatly beyond the requirement of law. The statement of Jesus is addressed to all of us. By faith we have all become descendants of Abraham; by baptism we have entered into the covenant of God’s people and, therefore, are entitled to the salvation Jesus brings. Jesus knocks at our door to visit and to bring salvation to our household. Our Good Shepherd comes in search for the lost sheep. Let us allow ourselves to be found by the Good Shepherd. + 

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Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR

Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR

Priest/Religious/Bible Professor of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.