A Reflection for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Lk 19:1-10)
There is a distinction between hearing and seeing. It is not always the case that when something is heard, it corresponds to what is seen. Often times, incoherence between the two results to some conflicts among people, or within one’s knowledge of something. Hence, there is a need to search for truth about something either heard or seen in order to understand and accept it.
Zacchaeus might have heard already about the man named Jesus, but he could not reconcile what he hears from people about him. They say that Jesus is doing many good things, and presumed to be the promised savior. But Zacchaeus’ knowledge of Jesus depended on others’ testimony of him. So when an opportune time came to see Jesus, he never hesitated, and was so eager to see him personally.
Seeking the face of Jesus could have been easy for Zacchaeus, being affluent; he could have hired some men to pave way for him so that he can by the road where Jesus would pass by. But the huge crowd would not allow him. So he did something embarrassing, (perhaps) he climbed up a tree just to have a clearer view of Jesus. It is quite strange to see a well-known person, be him with well reputation or not, to climb a tree, just to feed his curiosity. Of all possible means to see a person, why climb a tree?
Perhaps today, it does not matter anymore how one uses his creativity in seeking the face of Jesus. A person can utilize all his resources to seek the face of Jesus, by all means. What weighs more important is the eagerness to see Jesus and hear directly from his mouth the Good News. Another concern today might be: where and when can I see Jesus? Does he look like a present Palestine man? Should I have to go to Jerusalem to see him?
The answer of course and obviously, is NO! We can actually see Jesus in the here and now. Jesus might appear as anybody we least expect him to be: a doctor, engineer, vendor, scavenger, beggar, and we can go on a long list of possible appearances of Jesus. What is definite is that Jesus is here. We only need to have a clear view on Jesus’ face.
One professor speculated that we are like a man looking at reality with shades in our eyes; hence, our vision becomes a little dimmer than it really looks like. The shades symbolize materialism and other ideologies that clouded man’s perception of reality. We became accustomed to what materialism shows us. Our vision of others becomes limited. We need to remove the shades in order to clearly see the person in front of us. By this, we become more appreciative of the real beauty of the person, and eventually see Jesus in them.
Zacchaeus’ attitude of eagerness to see the face of Jesus continues to challenge us. Jesus is present. We need to see him against all odds in persons we meet. We also need to climb a tree—to do what it takes just to see Jesus clearly. So that like Zacchaeus, we might also be privileged to hear Jesus say to us “come, for today I must stay in your house”.
(Danny A. Dugay)