"Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over." Zacchaeus was serious about following Jesus. Maybe at the start he was just curious when he ran ahead to scale that sycamore tree. But that curiosity developed into a life-changing experience when Jesus called him by name. At that moment, when the Lord chose Zacchaeus to be his host for the evening, the rich tax collector "came down quickly and received him with joy." And shortly thereafter came his promise of conversion and penance. Not only would he change his ways; he would make up for his former ones. And thus Jesus declared, "Today salvation has come to this house."READ MORE
"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." The Pharisee and the tax collector--polar opposites by practice. The one is a religious leader, a professional follower-of-the-law. The other is a deviant who extorts money for himself as he goes about his economic business. But in today's parable, Jesus flips these perceptions around. The humble tax collector is the one who "went home justified." Whereas the Pharisee has a flawless outer appearance, when we see a glimpse into his inner thoughts we detect his vanity and presumption. We see a man who may keep the letter of the law, but who is not truly converted to God's ways in his heart. The tax collector, on the other hand, pleads for God's mercy, recognizing that he needs it.READ MORE
"Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?" The widow in today's parable didn't give up. She kept "bothering" the judge by coming to him and asking for a decision in her favor. Ultimately, her persistence caught his attention and influenced his behavior. Jesus seems to be teaching us today that this quality of faithful persistence is a good one to have. Thus, he advises us to call out to God not once, not twice, but "day and night." This is a fitting image for the idea of continual prayer; it goes on all the time without ceasing.READ MORE
"Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?" Jesus had worked a miracle of healing for ten people afflicted with leprosy. They had cried out for him to have pity on them, and he did. But only one member of this group took the time to return to Jesus, fall at his feet, and thank him. Why?
Perhaps some were so busy rejoicing that they forgot to give thanks. Perhaps others thought they deserved to be healed and thus did not think in terms of gratitude for the miracle. Maybe some in the group weren't sure that the healing was going to last. Or, possibly, some of them were just selfish and lazy. Whatever the case, Jesus affirms the one man who does the right thing: "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." Jesus thus establishes this Samaritan man as our example. We too are to glorify "God in a loud voice" for all that he has done for us.READ MORE
"When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'" What a humble attitude this would be! Jesus challenges us today not to boast, not to seek special praise, not to consider ourselves worthy of some great reward when we follow him. Rather, he honestly reminds us that it is simply our duty to do all we "have been commanded."READ MORE