We have heard Jesus telling, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). In today’s gospel we see Zacchaeus, one among the richest in Israel, getting a fast track entry into that very same kingdom. Is God – Jesus – partial? Fortunately for all the rich, Jesus said that it is hard and more difficult but not impossible, as Jesus continues in the same dialogue, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (19:26). Does it mean that the so called rich can sit quiet and expect God to do the impossible?
Look at Zacchaeus! He might have heard the above words of Jesus. His short stature hardly gave him a chance to see Jesus in the midst of the crowd. He knew he was immensely rich, and was the chief tax collector and so a great sinner. We don’t know if this is the same tax collector we saw last week praying at the gate of the Temple, crying out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). This rich and powerful man also knew that he was not worthy to go near Jesus or even to be seen by him. However, he wanted to see Jesus. His deficiencies, like short in stature, sinfulness and the scorn and ill-will of the civilized society did not prevent him from taking the first step, even by hiding himself from the sight of the public and from Jesus. However, this was reason enough for Jesus, for God, to do what is impossible for mortals.
Very often either our material riches or our mental blocks of pride and prejudice, our disobedience of God’s commandments, etc., can drive us away from God and make us unworthy of God. However, our God is looking for ways and means to make us worthy, definitely not because of our merits, but precisely because of our spiritual poverty. He runs after us, capturing and bringing us back to his kingdom. St. Paul reminds us in 2 Thessalonians that we need always to pray, asking God to make us, everyone, worthy of his call. Answering this prayer comes to us as a free gift, truly unmerited.
A thorough reading and meditation on the words of Wisdom today, (Wisdom, 11:22 – 12:2) will guide us to kneel down before the magnitude of God’s amazing creation, realizing our place in it. If the ‘whole world before God is like a speck, what will we be in that speck and before God? In spite of our miniscule stature, God cares and is after us. We are precious for him. Be of good cheer!