We have for our Gospel reading today the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector who was so short that he had to climb up a tree to get a better view of Jesus as he was passing by. Everyone including Zacchaeus himself is completely surprised when Jesus announces that he intends to stay at Zacchaeus’ house that day.
Jesus pulls no punches in today’s Gospel text about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Typically, he chooses as his characters first one who is ostensibly the most upright and religious and then the other who is despised by everyone. And, as ever in his parables, Jesus turns the accepted order upside down.
It is clear that the main theme of our readings is perseverance in prayer. In the first reading we heard how Moses stretched out his arms in the desert and the Israelites gained the upper hand in the battle. When his arms eventually drooped through tiredness the Israelites began to lose the battle. So, Aaron & Hur had to prop his arms up on a rock so that they would not droop. In this way their enemies were conquered and the victory was won.
It is often interesting when reading about one or other of Christ’s healings to note that he very often forgives the sins of the sick person and this forgiveness seems to bring about their physical healing. At other times Jesus his puts out his hand or makes some other sign like putting paste on a blind man’s eyes. In most cases we can identify a particular moment when the healing takes place.
In the Gospel today we hear the Apostles asking Jesus to increase their faith. They understand the first lesson that faith is necessary but we presume because they feel that they do not have very much faith they want to know how to increase it, and in this they are probably not too different from us. Like them we too often feel very keenly that our faith is completely inadequate and that we could do with much more of it.
Father Alex McAllister SDS
Parish Priest of
St Thomas à Becket