Luke 19: 1-10 Coming Down
Today, allow the Lord to do to us what he did for us. Just as the Lord came down from Heaven, He wants us to come down from the tree, from our high horse!
Today’s reading reminds me of a very sad story. It was my first time in Italy as a seminarian. The year was 1993 and we were invited by the local pastor to bless the homes that surrounded the parish. We were all excited to do something beautiful. We went to an apartment complex. The first door we saw, we knocked, but there was no answer. We knocked again but still no answer. I was about to give up when the other seminarian decided to knock for a good 30 seconds. That’s a long time! Then an old woman began to unlock the door and very slowly she opened it. Barely seeing her face, we could tell that she was scared, shocked and surprised. She looked us up and down. We were wearing our cassocks. “What are you doing here?” she asked. We told her we had been invited to come and bless the homes. “Why did you come here?” We responded, “Your door was the first we saw?” She asked, “Who sent you?” Being a little smart aleck, I responded, “The Lord!”
Then she really got scared! She let us in and she told us what I will never forget. “I was just about ready to kill myself.” We talked for a very long time. She showed us a photo album of this beautiful young lady who had traveled all over the world: Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, etc… I asked her who the young lady was. She said, “That’s me! I was a diplomat. I spent all my life traveling and working. I never got married. I have no children. Now, I am completely alone. I have no one who loves me - no one who cares about me.”
This too was the life of Zacchaeus: Lonely, forgotten, miserable and wretched. But it is never too late to change! What is the solution? Give. Go out like an explosion, like the Big Bang, not with a bang. This is the difference between laying down your life and taking your life. It is never too late to “lay down your life” or to “come down from the tree.”
The perfect storm, the human tsunami, of life is when two fronts move in simultaneously. That is when I want more and more while I give less and less! This combination is the leading cause of “death” among teenagers. This is the reason why those kids 18 to 30 never make it to Mass. It is also the leading cause of abortion, euthanasia and marital problems. In other words, it is when I prefer to complain about my vows rather than embrace them.
A few days ago, I saw a third grader walking down the hall with his hands in his pockets. He looked a little down. I asked him if there was anything wrong. He told me, “I got problems.” I told him, “Son, it only gets worse!” And it does. Do you have problems? We all have problems! Do you feel like your love has been rejected, torn apart, shredded, ripped to pieces and crushed? Well, look at the cross. You are in good company. The Good News is that that is not the end of the story. It gets better. It is the Lord inviting you to do something beautiful.
While driving towards St. Joseph this morning, I saw many cars pulled over by the police. I began to reflect on the various times I had been pulled over. I said to myself, “Why don’t they just leave me alone!” As soon as I said that, I heard a voice in my heart as loud and as clear as could be, “Just obey the law and they won’t bother you.” I looked up and said, “You always have an answer to everything don’t you!”
The answer is simple: Come down from the tree. Trees play a prominent role in salvation history. The tree of knowledge, the tree of life, and the tree of death! For Zaccheaus, it became the tree towards Love! It served its purpose because it was in the right order. When we tell the Lord to come down from the tree (the wood of the cross), it is a sin! When the Lord tells us to come down, it is grace!
Zaccheaus was looking for so much more to life. Let us ask the Lord that we never complain but to give what we have, even up to half of our possessions. This is the start of embrace one of the greatest lessons the Lord gave to us: It is better to give than to receive.
There is only one way to find out, DO IT! Otherwise, I really have no right to complain.