“An authentic encounter with the Lord Jesus leads to conversion, repentance, and change of heart.”
Jesus always meet us halfway whenever He senses even the slightest movement of the heart toward Him. Before faith is born, God encounters us through our profound desires. In today’s Gospel, someone also did the same because he wanted to see the Lord Jesus. This man was Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and a wealthy man but short, as the evangelist described him, wanted to see who Jesus was. What did he do in order to have a glimpse of the person he wanted to see? He climbed a sycamore tree because he was curious about Christ. Usually, wealthy and famous personalities do not climb trees to see something or someone. For us Filipinos, famous persons have reserved seats on the stage. Can you imagine for example our public officials (senators, congressmen, mayors), or showbiz personalities, or even priests and bishops climbing a tree just to see the Pope pass by? But Zacchaeus did that: he climbed a tree for someone he perceived was worth losing his poise/composure. And what was the response of Jesus to this humbling act of Zacchaeus? He responded with C.A.R.E. (Call, Approach, Request to stay, Enrich). Jesus CALLED Zacchaeus because he noticed him and saw him on the tree. Among the many people who maybe were with Jesus on that journey, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus there. Our Lord Jesus, notices us that is why He calls us to Him. Jesus APPROACHED the man Zacchaeus who was still on the tree. The Lord made the first move/the initiative to him whom the people then consider as sinner because of the nature of his occupation as a tax collector. God approaches us even in our sinfulness. He makes the first move to call us back to Him. After Jesus called and approached Zacchaeus, he REQUESTED to stay at his house. At this point, our Lord decided to also lose his composure/poise by inviting himself to the house of Zacchaeus. It does not normally happen that a person invites himself/herself to the house of someone he/she has just met. Yet, this request of Jesus was joyfully received by him. The Lord will also request us if He can stay with us and in us, and what will be our response: will it be like that of Zacchaeus or otherwise? Lastly, Jesus’ presence ENRICHED Zacchaeus and his household. That memorable encounter with the Lord led him to a change of heart: from greed to generosity, from dishonesty to righteousness. An authentic encounter with the Lord Jesus leads to conversion, repentance, and change of heart. Indeed, salvation has come to Zacchaeus and his household.
Brothers and sisters, our Lord Jesus is also showing His C.A.R.E. to us today, especially in this Holy Mass. He calls us, He approaches us, He requests to stay with us, and He enriches us with His love and mercy. Our being here in this celebration shows our interest in the One whom we seek to see and encounter. May we be ever aware of the Lord’s care in our everyday lives so that we too may learn to care for others especially those in great need today.
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