The Gospel reading for this Sunday is the story of Zacchaeus.The story demonstrates how Jesus reached out to the most unlikely of his followers, Zacchaeus a wealthy tax collector. I believe that Jesus’ act of kindness led to Zacchaeus reciprocating with generosity towards the poor and those that he defrauded.
Hence, when we reach out to someone who least expects it their gratitude exceeds our expectations. For example, last year I received a gift from a parent whose child I had assisted with their learning throughout the year.
I did not expect this token of appreciation but because of my work both the child and parent wanted to extend their thanks. It goes to show that one act of kindness creates another.
Furthermore, Jesus says the “Son of Man came to seek out and save the lost.” I believe this is a challenge for all of us to acknowledge those at the margins and assist them whenever we can rather than ignore them.The message is said by Saint Francis who said,
“It is in giving that we receive.”
How many times do we think we are right and everybody else is wrong?
We can even justify our actions and attack those who don’t accept our point of view. I often reflect after having a difference of opinion with others was it because I was thinking of my own agenda and what outcome would benefit me or would achieve the best outcome for all.
In the “Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector”, (Luke 18:9-14) the Pharisee boasts about how he serves God of how honest and generous he is to the poor and the Church. Contrastingly the Tax Collector asks God for mercy for he accepts he is a sinner and sometimes fails to do the right thing by himself and others. Hence I believe he is the more honest one as he acknowledges and seeks forgiveness for his faults rather than laud his successes.
Furthermore this parable is more than just about humility I believe it is about how we deal with the situations and people that challenge you and the way you overcome them. The Pharisee centred on himself and his achievements while the Tax Collector did not play the blame game but was aware that he needed God’s help to become a better person so that he could make a difference in the lives of other. For me this is a battle I face every day.
In Luke’s Gospel 17:11-19, “Jesus Cleanses the Ten Lepers”, it is the one leper from Samaria that comes back to Jesus to thank him despite all the being healed.
Jesus responds by saying “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
I often ponder on two points in this story.
To be thankful for what we have and know and that it is important to share this with others even if may just be a simple thank you.
Furthermore it is to acknowledge the person who has done something for you.
This may lead to a relationship with that person or continue to build a stronger relationship with people who are in your life.
When we take our possessions and relationshps for granted this when we become selfish and the possibilities for growth in our relationships diminish.
This hinders us from greater happiness in our lives.
So the message is “If the only prayer we ever pray is ‘thank you’, it is enough. Meister Echart”