St. Paul reminds the people of Rome that our spiritual battles are fought with the Lord by our side, and nothing can overcome God’s strength. May the Lord’s grace encourage us to face the challenges before us this day!
The Psalm response reminds us that our hope is not founded in our strength, our wealth or our abilities…it is founded upon the mercy of God. May this mercy give us the wisdom to turn to the Lord for our needs this day!
Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God starts small but over time grows larger and is transformed. The same is true for our spiritual journey, reminding us to take the small steps we need to do today to become the disciples the Lord calls us to be.
What shall me make of Zacchaeus? The Gospel of Luke shows this encounter between him and Jesus. Consider these points about Zacchaeus:
He is a chief tax collector – no one likes him!
He is wealthy and powerful.
He is “short of stature” so he has to climb a tree to see Jesus.
He repents, giving half his possessions to the poor and promising to pay back fourfold to anyone from whom he has extorted money.
Tax collectors were despised in the Jewish culture. They were Jews who collaborated with the Roman Empire and often used unscrupulous ways to get money from their neighbors. Thus the title “sinners” was commonly given to them as people who flagrantly rejected God’s law.
Now add to this attitude the element of the ridiculous. Here is a wealthy, powerful, short, sinner…standing in a sycamore tree to see Jesus! Something is going on in his heart, and as the crowd blocks his view (and he can’t get near) he does the only thing he can to glimpse the Lord.
And that means that he stands out. His repentance – and God’s merciful grace – now become a public act. People see Zacchaeus and Jesus, they grumble, and the Lord shows that no one is left out of God’s mercy. Here are a few final questions to ponder today:
Like Zacchaeus, is there something in me that is calling for a change of heart?
Am I willing to make a change, even if it means calling unwanted attention to myself?
Am I like the crowd, grumbling when someone experiences mercy?
God’s mercy is present to the world. Zacchaeus made the change, encountered the Lord, and received the transforming grace of Christ. His example shows us the way to experience the love of Jesus in our hearts today.
How can we share our faith with those around us? Some simple and practical considerations include service, invitation, technology and word of mouth…and perhaps one of these will speak to our hearts today as we proclaim the Good News to those we meet.
Prayer is crucial for our spiritual life, yet we discover in the Gospel today the power that results when our prayers are grounded in the humility that recognizes our own weaknesses and sins. May we fervently call upon the Lord in our daily prayer, asking the one who knows us through-and-through for what we need.
The Lord makes makes it clear (repeating his exhortation twice) that it is crucial for his disciples to repent of their sins. May we take a hard and honest look within, and ask the Lord for grace we need to live in his love.
Jesus uses the weather to demonstrate how we use signs to understand our earthly lives, and then he switches this concept to our spiritual life. It begs a simple question: Are we looking for the signs of faith in our souls, and are we willing to make changes for the better?
The Lord’s teaching in the Gospel of Luke can drive us to our knees as we count our blessings, and then lift us to new heights as we make something precious with what we’ve received. What will you do with your gift of life?