1st Reading: Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Wisdom makes us humble in God’s presence
In your sight, Lord, the whole world is like a grain of dust that tips the scales, like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground. Yet you are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent. Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it. And how, had you not willed it, could a thing persist, how be conserved if not called forth by you? You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable sprit is in all. Little by little, therefore, you correct those who offend, you admonish and remind them of how they have sinned so that they may abstain from evil and trust in you Lord.
2nd Reading: 2 Thess 1:11–2:2
Not being too focused on the (future) Day of the Lord
We always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.
Gospel: Luke 19:1-10
Jesus dines with Zacchaeus, to bring back a lost soul
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
In his Letter to Priests written for Holy Thursday 2002 (Nos. 5-6), St. Pope John Paul II wrote these words about today’s delightful Gospel story:
Everything that happens to him (Zacchaeus) is amazing. If there had not been, at a certain point, the ‘surprise’ of Christ looking up at him, perhaps he would have remained a silent spectator of the Lord moving through the streets of Jericho. Jesus would have passed by, not into, his life. Zacchaeus had no idea that the curiosity which had prompted him to do such an unusual thing was already the fruit of a mercy which had preceded him, attracted him and was about to change him in the depths of his heart. […]
Luke’s account is remarkable for the tone of the language: Everything is so personal, so tactful, so affectionate! Not only is the text filled with humanity; it suggests insistence, an urgency to which Jesus gives voice as the one offering the definitive revelation of God’s mercy. He says: ‘I must stay at your house,’ or to translate even more literally: ‘I need to stay at your house’ (v 5). Following the mysterious road map which the Father has laid out for him, Jesus runs into Zacchaeus along the way. He pauses near him as if the meeting had been planned from the beginning. Despite all the murmuring of human malice, the home of this sinner is about to become a place of revelation, the scene of a miracle of mercy. True, this will not happen if Zacchaeus does not free his heart from the ligatures of egoism and from his unjust and fraudulent ways. But mercy has already come to him as a gratuitous and overflowing gift. Mercy has preceded him! […]
This is what happens in the case of Zacchaeus. Aware that he is now being treated as a ‘son,’ he begins to think and act like a son, and this he shows in the way he rediscovers his brothers and sisters. Beneath the loving gaze of Christ, the heart of Zacchaeus warms to love of neighbor. From a feeling of isolation, which had led him to enrich himself without caring about what others had to suffer, he moves to an attitude of sharing. This is expressed in a genuine ‘division’ of his wealth: ‘half of my goods to the poor.’ The injustice done to others by his fraudulent behavior is atoned for by a fourfold restitution: “If I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold” (v 8). And it is only at this point that the love of God achieves its purpose, and salvation is accomplished: ‘Today salvation has come to this house’ (v 9).