November 15, 2011 - Tuesday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

What contrasting figures are set before us today! In the first reading, we have Eleazar, chief of the scribes; in the Gospel we have Zacchaeus, chief of the tax collectors. Eleazar is a man noble in appearance; Zacchaeus is short in stature. Eleazar is so well respected that his persecutors try to find a way out for him; Zacchaeus is despised by his own people. Eleazar has lived an admirable life since his childhood; Zacchaeus is a tax collector.

What could such men have in common? I would say that they had more in common than they differed. Eleazar was a son of Abraham and Jesus tells us about Zacchaeus, “this man too is a son of Abraham.” More basically than that, they are both sons of the Most High God. The point of both stories is faithfulness to God. Eleazar choose to remain faithful; Zacchaeus choose to become faithful.

St. Thérèse puts it this way:

Let us suppose that the son of a very clever doctor, stumbling over a stone on the road, falls and breaks his leg. His father hastens to him, lifts him lovingly, and binds up the fractured limb, putting forth all his skill. The son, when cured, displays the utmost gratitude, and he has excellent reason for doing so. But let us take another supposition.
The father, aware that a dangerous stone lies in his son's path, is beforehand with the danger and removes it, unseen by anyone. The son, thus tenderly cared for, not knowing of the mishap from which his father's hand has saved him, naturally will not show him any gratitude, and will love him less than if he had cured him of a grievous wound. But suppose he heard the whole truth, would he not in that case love him still more?

The key is in our psalm today: “The Lord upholds me.” The Lord gave Eleazar the grace to be faithful for 90 years; the Lord gave Zacchaeus the grace to repent. The Lord uphold them both, though in different ways. If Eleazar had lived 90 years faithfully and then decided to abandon God in the end, his 90 years would not matter. The past is not that important. It is in the present moment that we can be faithful, that we must be faithful. God neither holds the past against us nor gives us credit for it. So brothers and sisters, let us begin to be faithful today, regardless of our past.