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10/30/16 Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Damian

Are you not amazed at how quickly Zacchaeus obeyed the Lord?  That is, how quickly he got down from that tree and how readily he agreed to open the door to his house?  Isn’t it amazing he did exactly everything the Lord asked him to do?  Why?

Never once did an emperor’s son relegate power to the people.  Never once did a ruler not lord over his people.  Growing up, Zacchaeus must have been convinced, by either family or friends, that being wealthy, being powerful and being nasty were the best way to live a “good” life.    

What do you dream about?  What are you ambitious for?

Obviously, Zacchaeus did not find what he was expecting to find.  Have you learned the same lesson?

What’s it worth to gain the whole world and lose your soul?  What’s it worth to live in a big home and have no one to share it with? 

People, like places and things, have a tremendous influence on who we are and what we believe in.  People, for better or for worse, define who we are. They should and shouldn’t.

What was it that led Zacchaeus to climb a tree?  It was his misery.

When the Lord saw a man dressed in fine robes on top of a sycamore tree, he must have known immediately that this man was ripe for picking.  Zacchaeus is that fruit from the ancient tree of knowledge.  He was living out the serpent’s temptations.  He became what he ate.  He was a clone of Eve.  

Like her, he ate from the fruit that was daggling from the tree of knowledge and absorbed all the world’s desires.  He knew how to dress well, negotiate with evil, hang comfortably, and deal shrewdly with people.  He knew it all, but he knew evil more intimately.  He was the fruit of all that he knew.


No one dared to touch that fruit.  No one dared to come close to such a vile man.   But what was he doing up there in the first place?  Why was he, of all people, seeking the Lord?  It was his life.  His life had made him a sick man. Yes, he looked good on the outside, fine robes and all, but inside he was spoiled.   He was rotting away.  Not by a worm but by a snake.   Not by God’s design but by others plans.

Like fruit hanging from a tree, celebrities want us, especially teens, to believe that they have it all!  That their life is a dream come true and that Jesus had nothing to do with it.  They call out, "Look at me!  You can be just like me!"  Well, I can assure you that nightmares are not the dreams they wanted to come true, but I do agree with them in that Jesus had nothing to do with it. 

The question is:  Who did?  Who is responsible for their rise and for their fall?


None of the folks in Jericho dared to touch Zacchaeus or come near to his home.  This man was considered forbidden fruit.  Only God could help this poor soul.  And he did. 

But in a way that is strikingly different from us.  The Lord did not accept who he was.  Rather, he took him for what he was.  Jesus did not stroke his ego to make him feel better about himself.  No, the Lord looked up, plucked him out, touched him, and went to his home.  The Lord’s conversation is as sudden as Zacchaeus conversion! Are we surprised?  We shouldn’t be.   As Christ gives witness to God’s power, love and forgiveness, Zacchaeus gives witness to the slavery that comes from the evil one and the hopelessness that comes from sinning. 


It didn’t take much for Zacchaeus to readily agree to live his life over again; to change course; and to make a clean break with his past and to begin again. 

 It was the obvious choice, especially when confronted with so much love.


The Pharisees and the scribes were not allowed to get their hands dirty.  We are.  We have been called to work in the Lord’s vineyard, where fallen fruit abound and laborers are few. 


Let’s get to work!  Let’s look up to God and save some souls…before they fall to the ground.



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