Broadcast homily of October 30, 2022 (Lk 19, 1-10) – Swiss Catholic Portal

Broadcast homily of October 30, 2022 (Lk 19, 1-10) – Swiss Catholic Portal

Father Luc Ruedin – Saint-Joseph Church, Lausanne

Dear brothers and sisters,

From exclusion…

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. Entirely on his mission – “to save what is lost” – he crosses the city of Jericho. Now, a man is trying to see him. No doubt he has heard of him. Rumors circulate about him: a healer, a master, a prophet, the Savior…

Jew… Zacchaeus is waiting for the coming of the Messiah. however, he betrayed in the eyes of his own. He does not keep the Law, the way of God. Collaborating with the enemy, he took the opportunity to enrich himself. He robs his compatriots and lives on their backs. The verdict of the crowd falls: he is a sinner!

Excluded, set aside, isolated, Zacchaeus is not, however, a fatalist. He does not see why his small business and his collaboration with the Roman occupier would deprive him of meeting a free man. Small in stature but lacking in desire, he runs and climbs a sycamore to “see who Jesus is”. Thirsty for a living relationship, he seeks a way out of his exclusion. Banned from society, he knows very well that Only an Other, the All-Other, can come and satisfy his thirst for life.

The gaze: door to the soul

But what is happening? “Jesus having lifted up his eyes…”. Yes, the look is indeed the door to the soul! Looked at by Jesus, Zacchaeus understands everything: He understands that he is… understood – taken as he is – because loved without conditions! He knows that his name is known from all eternity by the One who looks at him Thus. He knows at the same time that he must come down from his sycamore: we do not meet the Merciful by rising but at ground level: by accepting our limits, our wounds, our exclusions, and… by recognizing our ruptures of Alliance.

On inclusion…

Zacchaeus come down quickly: today I must go and stay in your house”. Jesus makes no demands on him; he gives her no instructions. He makes no exhortation to her to change her life. His Word of Love is liberating. It is also effective. She is quite simply a liberating Presence! When Jesus enters a house – a soul – an event occurs: what was destroying our relational life is abolished. Surprised to be freed from what alienates us, we find ourselves in truth, we come to ourselves!

The Word of God Operates in an Available Heart

Thus, Zacchaeus saw a real encounter. From those that change lives! For him, God’s today has the scent of eternity. In “the inner Castle” Saint Teresa of Avila evokes these Words heard which are sovereign, liberating, pacifying and which remain forever in the heart. They do, she says “understand many other things than those they express through sound”. No doubt Zacchaeus understood a lot in an instant. His faith, as the Apostle says, became active. Transformed, converted by the fire of the Presence of Jesus, he became clairvoyant. He decides to repair the injustices committed. When it finds an available heart, the Word of God works. She does what she says: she inscribes in the community of the Living and of those who, not judging, live in the divine sweetness of the justifying Mercy of God.

As a result, Zacchaeus can only attest to this: “Behold, Lord: I give to the poor half of my wealth, and if I have wronged anyone, I will return to him four times as much”. Neither pious intention nor moral justification, this response notes the profound transformation of Zacchaeus, his conversion which is identically open to the weakest, the most fragile, the poorest, the excluded. True son of Abraham, his faith has effects of charity!

And it is then, and only then that Jesus specifies “Today salvation has come to this house, for he too is a son of Abraham”. For Salvation to become an experience, it must be welcomed, recognized and named. Teresa of Avila, again, doesn’t she say that there are three graces? That of receiving; that of recognizing; and that of naming. Zacchaeus who has received the Lord in his house and recognized His Sovereignty, The appointed beautifully by the generosity of sharing!

Through fellowship…

Freed, Zacchaeus thus finds a new community: that of those who know they are loved by God. United to Jesus, they then pass from exclusion to communion, from perdition to reunion, from sin to Salvation.

Do not lose your head, the Apostle tells us again, and do not let yourself be frightened about the coming of the Lord. Today there are many gloomy predictions and many are the prophets of doom. Climate problems, pandemics, wars and destruction intensify exclusions. The antidote ? To know from experience that everything contributes to the Good of those who allow themselves to be loved by God…love like Him! This knowledge is both spiritual consolation, commitment to the common good and joyful hope.

Like the author of the book of Wisdom, let us live in gratitude, in gratitude towards the God of life and Mercy who “holds the world like nothing on the scales”. Wow…. ! Communing to His Presence, we will then participate in His joy of reunion. We will be other Zacchaeus filled with joy to receive him in our home.


31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Bible readings: Wisdom 11.22-12.2; Psalm 144; Thessalonians 1.11-2.2; Luke 19.1-10

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