Divine Mercy Articles

The Cross of Christ



Zacchaeus and the Obstacles of Life

by Fr Cornelius


I read an interesting quote by an unknown author many years ago which was “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful”.

I have been reflecting on this quotation, doing my best to put it within a realistic context. The more I try to unravel the philosophy behind this quotation, the more it eludes my imagination. Like every other thought provoking quotation and expression, different interpretations could be allocated to it. I have been contemplating this quotation for years, searching for understanding, inspired by sacred scripture and real life situations.

This apparent challenge was put to rest when I read the Gospel of Luke “Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd; so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today’. And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully”. (Luke 19:1-10) After deep reflection on this scriptural passage, the true meaning of the above cited quotation was revealed to me.

This gospel passage made me realise that we all have our challenges in life. We all have our obstacles in life. These obstacles can prevent us from experiencing Jesus Christ personally, who makes life meaningful for us. The gospel according to Luke tells the story of Jesus’ meeting with Zacchaeus.

This gospel story confirmed my realisation above. Like any of us, Zacchaeus had his challenges, obstacles and hindrances. He was regarded as a sinner and tax collector. The crowd was a huge obstacle for him to see Jesus. His size was a big challenge preventing him from encountering Jesus. The interesting thing about Zacchaeus was that he was able to recognize his obstacles. He took practical and realistic steps to go above his hindrances. He did his best to go above them by climbing a sycamore tree. The sycamore tree he climbed was a genuine strive for him to “catch a glimpse” of Jesus who is “the face of God’s Mercy”.

This story is a very touching, inspiring and interesting one. It reveals a moment of God’s saving grace. What matters is not our challenges but rather our response and the ability to overcome those challenges. It follows that anything that prevents us from experiencing Jesus Christ personally should be considered as an obstacle that makes life meaningless for us. Jesus Christ adds meaning to our lives. Challenges from this perceptive should increase our desire and yearning for Jesus Christ, our Divine Mercy.

Looking at Zacchaeus’ effort to encounter him, Jesus said to him, “Come down, hurry, because I must stay at your house today.” As you can see, Zacchaeus expressed his need for Jesus not only in his life but also in his home. When Jesus entered into his life and home, his life never remained the same. He was joyful, renewed, and totally set free. He repented and made restitution. St. Luke wrote this story so that we could recognise ourselves in it.

This story urges us to work towards bringing salvation and joy to our homes and to one another. We are encouraged to invite Jesus into our home beginning today; to discover how God has been and continues to be at work in saving what was lost. Like Zacchaeus, may we experience salvation of healing, joy, peace, and reconciliation from God during this Easter period and always.

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