(Wisdom 11:22–12:2; Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2; Luke 19:1-10)
Loving Others as Jesus Has Loved You
He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner. (Luke 19:7)
When Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, he made it clear that it is better to be humble than to consider yourself better than everyone else (Luke 18:9-14). When he forgave the sinful woman at a dinner party, he couldn’t help but teach his host, a Pharisee, how much better it is to be merciful rather than self-righteous (7:36-50). In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus goes so far as to invite himself into the home of a public sinner, a corrupt tax collector named Zacchaeus.
To the crowd surrounding him that day, Zacchaeus was a traitor who served the Roman Empire and made himself rich at the expense of his fellow Jews. But while they were focusing on who Zacchaeus was, Jesus focused on who he could be. That vision for the man’s future moved Jesus to speak kindly to him and lead him to salvation.
There are times when we can be like Zacchaeus as well. We can take advantage of other people and look out only for ourselves. Other times, we can be like the onlookers. We become self-righteous and judge people harshly. We are all capable of holding a double standard—one for ourselves and one for everybody else.
Despite our shortcomings and our double standards, Jesus continues to reach out to us just as he reached out to Zacchaeus. It’s true that Jesus loves us as we are. But it’s also true that he loves us so much that he wants to see us become everything we are meant to be.
In your prayer today, ask the Lord to show you one simple way that you can become more like the person you were meant to be: perhaps more caring or more generous, perhaps more loving toward your family or more prayerful. As he did with Zacchaeus, Jesus is always ready to help you. He is always ready to pour his grace on you whenever you turn to him.
“Lord, fill me with your love. Help me to look at the people around me the way you look at me.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflections/Discussion
- In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we learn of God’s love for all things, his mercy for all people, and his forgiveness for repentant sinners. The psalmist goes on to say that the Lord loathes nothing that he has made: “for what you hated, you would not have fashioned” (Wisdom 11:24). What is your attitude towards people who are different from yourself? How could it be more Christlike?
- The responsorial psalm also speaks of God’s graciousness, mercy, kindness, and compassion. How important is it for our compassion to reach beyond our small circle of family or friends? What more can you do?
- St. Paul, in the second reading, warns the early Christians to be on their guard against false “prophets” of doom. In what way is your view of the state of the world shaped by alarmists and doomsayers? How would a deeper understanding of the nature and character of God, and faith in his power to transform even the hardest of hearts, help your view to be more hopeful and Christ-centered?
- In the Gospel, we again see Jesus reaching out to an individual who was hated and disrespected by his contemporaries. Notice that Zacchaeus “received him with joy” and the crowd “began to grumble.” Why did this happen? In what ways can you work “against the grain” to care for others, especially those who are looked down on?
- Jesus said he came “to seek and save what was lost.” Notice that Jesus did not wait around but actively sought those in need. He also told Zacchaeus that, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). In what ways can our outreach to others be a source of “salvation” to them? How can you be less passive and more active in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Despite our shortcomings and our double standards, Jesus continues to reach out to us just as he reached out to Zacchaeus. It’s true that Jesus loves us as we are. But it’s also true that he loves us so much that he wants to see us become everything we are meant to be.” What steps can you take to open yourself more to the transforming love of Jesus our Lord?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to love others as He has loved you (John 13:34). Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.