Tuesday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s gospel tells us that Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was.” This particular line is so rich in meaning and significance. And I cannot help but ask: Are we seeking to see Jesus? Do we want to see Jesus and be with him? The gospel is inviting us to be aware of our own desires: What does our heart desire? What do we long for?
Peter van Breemen, in his book The God of Our Deepest Longings, says, “Spirituality basically refers to what we do with our longing, both in the fulfillment we experience when it materializes, as well as in the pain we feel when it doesn’t.” “Spirituality above all confronts us with the basic question: How does our longing coincide with the will of God?”
In our materialistic and consumerist world, there is a big temptation to restrict our desires to what is material and physical. Various things are offered to us – promising to satisfy our wants and desire, whatever they may be. And we are easily persuaded – we fall into temptation. We try to satisfy our desire for a deep sense of self-worth by accumulating material wealth and possessions. We try to appease our longing for meaning and fulfillment by striving hard for success, achievement, and accomplishment. We try to fulfill our yearning for meaningful relationship and intimacy by indulging ourselves in sexual pleasures and illicit affairs. It is in this context that we must honestly examine ourselves and ask: How does our longing or desire coincide with the will of God?
The great virtue of Zacchaeus is this: “He ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree.” He had to hurdle an obstacle in encountering Jesus; he had to do something extraordinary just to see him. The gospel tells us that Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” We can call this the ‘invasion’ of Jesus over Zacchaeus’ house.
Once we open ourselves to Jesus, once we welcome him into our life, he places himself in the most intimate parts of ourselves, living there. Letting Jesus stay at our house means letting him take control of our life: letting him determine how we should live our life now – how we see, how we think, how we judge, how we choose, how move, how we act, how we behave, how we relate… This is what Robert Barron loves to call “the invasion of grace.” This invasion of grace always implies a shaking of the foundations. Indeed, when Christ breaks into our consciousness, when he breaks into our life with his grace, nothing remains the same… everything changes.