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Gospel Reflection for Tuesday, November 21, 2023
At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
"Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house."
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
"He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
"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."
And Jesus said to him,
"Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost."
- Lk 19:1-10
Today’s Gospel is yet another example of Jesus openly disobeying the laws of the religious Jews in His era. A tax collector was among the greatest of sinners, because he was a Jew who was working for the Romans. He was a traitor to his race, his religion and his nation. Jesus not only ate with tax collectors, but prostitutes and other publicly known sinners. He forgave their sins and they became his disciples and followers. This was extremely troublesome to the scribes and Pharisees. They spent their lives meticulously following the letter of the Law and enforcing it on others. They would not enter the house of a known sinner, eat with them, speak to them conversationally or touch them. According tot he Law of Moses, such people were to be cut off and severely punished.
Elsewhere, Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” and He explains that those who heard His words did not understand the meaning of the verse He referenced. The Law condemned those who could not uphold it to damnation. Jesus, taking the penalty of death and hell upon Himself, suffered that penalty. Through His sacrifice, He fulfilled the “curse” of the Law. He took upon Himself the punishment we all deserve. For the tax collectors and sinners, He would take the punishment, forgive their sins and offer them a new life. He offers us mercy.
Unfortunately, the “scribes and Pharisees” could not accept our Lord’s mercy. They believed that they were justified in following the Law. They judged others who failed in upholding the Law. Yet, when the lady who was convicted of adultery was brought before Him, He answered that only one without sin should condemn her… and the religious leaders all walked away. No one is without sin. The mercy of God is our true and only hope.
Judson Carroll is the author of several books, including his newest, Confirmation, an Autobiography of Faith. It is Available in paperback on Amazon:
His new podcast is The Uncensored Catholic https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-uncensored-catholic