33rd Week in Ordinary Time
2 Maccabees 6:18-31; Psalm 3:2-7;Luke 19:1-10
Today salvation has come to this house. (Luke 19:9)
If you had a free weekend, would you spend it in a cemetery attending a retreat called “Exercise for a Happy Death”?
Believe it or not, St. John Bosco would lead retreats just that like every month for students and members of his religious order in Turin, Italy. And yes, he would often have the retreat in a cemetery!
These exercises included an examination of conscience, a time for meditation, Confession, and a series of prayers and litanies. Bosco felt that thinking about our death from time to time would help us to understand how we should live here and now. The exercise served as a monthly reminder for people to take an inventory of barriers to their eternal happiness so that they could tear those barriers down.
In today’s Gospel reading, Zacchaeus was shaken out of his everyday path of life when Jesus called him down from the tree. Recognizing that his dishonest dealings were barriers to real happiness, he repented of his past and publicly promised to pay a generous retribution to those he had defrauded. Moved by the firmness of Zacchaeus’ intentions, Jesus made a bold declaration: “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). The obstacles were removed, Zacchaeus’ heart was softened, and all the onlookers got a glimpse of what it was like for someone to come to saving faith in the Lord.
Imagine how it must have felt to have such a sudden change of heart. Imagine the passion Zacchaeus must have experienced as he stood there, face-to-face with Jesus. It must have been very powerful indeed: it moved him to give away more than half of his fortune! He must have been flooded with peace, knowing that he was finally doing the right thing. You can be sure that at that moment, he was ready for a happy death!
Today, try to imagine being in the cemetery with John Bosco or in that tree with Zacchaeus. Think about your life in Christ. What barriers are keeping you from surrendering your whole life to him? What is keeping you from knowing the joy of salvation?
“Lord, give me the passion and conviction of Zacchaeus so that I can overcome my weaknesses. Teach me to focus my heart on the promise of eternal life with you.”