Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to listen to what the readings have spoken of today, especially with regards to the matter of sin and the judgment of our souls. As we quickly approach the end of the current liturgical year and soon to begin a new liturgical year cycle with the season of Advent, this is a good time for us all to take stock of the past year.
In our first reading passage today, taken from the second book of the Maccabees, we heard of the sorrowful tale of the suffering, death and martyrdom of Eleazar, one of the elders of the people of Judah, who was forced by the king to disobey the Law of God and follow the way of the pagans. Eleazar refused to obey and remained steadfast in his faith in God and in the obedience to His Laws.
In fact, as mentioned in the passage, even when the king’s enforcers tried to make a compromise that Eleazar could pretend to eat the meat forbidden by the Law but in fact was eating a meat that was allowed by the Law, Eleazar refused to comply, as he knew that by doing so, while he might save his life and be spared of the sufferings and painful death he would have to suffer from and the martyrdom he would have to go through, but he would scandalise his faith and become a bad role model and example.
Eleazar showed us true and genuine faith in God, faith that was not shaken even by the threat of suffering and pain, or distracted by the temptations of worldly pleasures and satisfactions, or defeated by the pressure to conform and to obey the will of those who are against God’s will and laws. Eleazar stayed true to his faith and dedicated himself wholly to God to the very end, knowing that while he suffered, but God will surely remember him and his faith.
Then, in our Gospel passage today we encountered Zaccheus, the tax collector who was short in posture, and who wanted very badly to see the Lord Jesus that he went through the dense crowd and climbed a sycamore tree just to see Him. And even more, when the Lord knew that Zaccheus was up on the tree and called him down, and as the Pharisees were kind of rebuking and judging Zaccheus for being a sinner, he made a public profession of faith before all those who were gathered.
Zaccheus proclaimed with great faith that he would right all the wrongs he had once done, and if necessary paying back all those whom he had cheated or treated unfairly many times more than what they had suffered or been cheated from. It is definitely a true declaration of faith and love for God, as it would have been incredibly difficult for anyone to make such a declaration and humiliating oneself before many people.
Yet again, in this case, we can see clearly the faith that Zaccheus had in the Lord, as contrasted to the lack of faith among many of the people especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, many of whom in fact opposed the Lord and His works. Just like Eleazar we have mentioned and talked about earlier on, Zaccheus is also a great example of a person who have faith in God and love Him with all of his heart.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? Have we been faithful in our lives, in our actions, words and deeds before God and people alike? Have we been exemplary in how we lived our lives thus far that all those who see us, hear us and witness us know that we truly belong to God? Or have we instead lived our lives in opposition to God and in ignorance or even defiance against His will?
God has given us all free will to choose the path that we want to take as we move forward in our respective lives, and the decision is ours to make, if we want to follow God or whether we prefer and want to follow our own path, away from God. Let us all then also remember that all those who remain faithful to God, God will also bless them and protect them, and their rewards in the end will be wonderful.
For God Who loves us all will restore to us the true joy and glory that had been lost from us because of sin, and that is the promise which Eleazar looked forward to even as he waited for the suffering and the pains he would have to suffer for his consistent and adamant faith, and which Zaccheus, the repentant sinner also rejoiced for, because he knew that God is a loving and forgiving God Who wants each and every one of us to be reconciled with Him.
May the Lord guide us all through the right paths in life, and may He strengthen us all to live ever more faithfully, and with greater love and devotion towards Him. May He inspire us all to walk in the footsteps of Eleazar the courageous and Zaccheus the repentant sinner. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.