Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunak and Zacchaeus

In the troubled politics of United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak has become the epitome of salvation from the feared economic disaster. This accidental hero of the time has beaten many odds.  He is known for his Indian Hindu heritage.  This is not a small thing in a country many still share the sentiments of Winston Churchill who led the country through World War II.  He said, “All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw”.  Ironically since then someone from that stock has become more wealthy and powerful than Churchill himself.  So much so the country now look to a Hindu to save it from the looming disaster.

Luke in his Gospel speak of another rich man, from a demography despised by the Pharisaic Jews.  Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector who became the epitome of salvation.  In a way what happened with Zacchaeus also was accidental.  He only wanted to have a glimpse of the Lord.  But to his surprise, the Lord invited himself to dine at his house and gave him the opportunity to rise above all condemnations.  Taking the opportunity, Zacchaeus who was deemed as a sinner by the religious elite, became a leading example of conversion and discipleship.  He promised retribution for any injustices he may have had done.  Also, he generously offered to be charitable with his wealth.  Zacchaeus’ conversion and charity was declared by Jesus as marks of salvation: “Today Salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9), he said.

When we are feeling despised or put down, we only need to seek out the face of Christ, and the Lord will be with us to uplift us.  While Jesus went into the house of Zacchaeus, we go into the house of Lord, our parish church, for a meal with Christ in the Eucharist.  Like Zacchaeus, we too promise retribution for the injustices of the past, and generosity with our wealth as mark of our conversion.  The penitential rite in the Holy Mass is a special occasion for us to be mindful of our conversion or the need of it.  Know that the Lord will raise us above the self-righteous who are like those who complained about Jesus saying, “He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house(Luke 19:7).  Therefore, don’t lose heart; let us also prove ourselves to be sons and daughters of ‘Abraham’, authentic people of God.