Reflection: Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Wis.11:22-12:2; Ps.144; 2nd Reading – 2Thes.1:11-1:2; Gospel – Lk.19:1-10]


Jericho is the place where Jesus healed a blind man. It is also one of the towns that gave the setting for the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Today’s gospel also takes place in Jericho where Jesus meets a man called Zacchaeus. From the text we know that this man was a senior tax collector which in turn made him very wealthy. He was paid by the Romans and having the possibility to manipulate ‘tax’ money, naturally some of it ended up into his own pockets. We also come to know that Zacchaeus’ stature was below average compared to other men and in fact we are told that Zacchaeus could not see Jesus who was passing by and therefore had to run ahead and climb a tree in order to catch a glimpse of Jesus.

Yet Jesus spotted Zacchaeus and singled him out from the crowd. It might be because he was up on the sycamore tree. Maybe … but Jesus also wanted to go and ‘stay’ at Zacchaeus’ house. For this reason, Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house and Zacchaeus in response ‘hurried down from the tree and welcomed him joyfully’. It is strange that Jesus invites himself to someone’s house. Usually Jesus waits for the other to invite him … But in the case of today’s Gospel, Jesus ‘intuited’ Zacchaeus’ disposition, and since Zacchaeus was hesitant, then Jesus invited himself at Zacchaeus’.

Zacchaeus’ disposition can be clearly seen: although the others saw the sinner in Zacchaeus and complained about Jesus going to his house, Zacchaeus stood his ground and was ready to amend his way, his life. If he was not ready to do so, he would not have made the promises he made to Jesus about what he was going to do! Yet, without requiring Jesus to say another word, Zacchaeus was ready to open up to Jesus in front of everyone. Once Jesus ‘entered’ into his house, once Jesus was welcomed into his life, Zacchaeus was willing to give back what was not his …  Zacchaeus’ calculations were very well done: being a Senior Tax Collector and a Sinner, he knew that his earnings was done in an unjust way … he cheated and the money that made him rich. He was so rich that he was ready to do away with half of his property by giving it to the poor. With the other half he was ready to pay back the persons that he had cheated four times the amount that he had taken. This is indeed a lot of money! In doing so Zacchaeus did not become poor himself … Once again, Jesus saw Zacchaeus’ disposition and declared that on that particular day, salvation has come to that house. Jesus was not speaking about his presence in Zacchaeus’ house.

Jesus was praising Zacchaeus as a repentant sinner who was open to the salvation that the Lord was ready to give to those who turn back to him: The sons of Abraham who were lost because of their sins, but who let the Son of Man in them and show them the way back to the Father.

Jesus wants to call us back to our senses too and is asking us to invite him to our house, into our inner selves. If something is hindering us from inviting him, he is ready to invite himself. But how is our disposition to accept him and his invitation?

“Lord, sometimes we pray and ask you to enter our hearts but quite often we are not really ready to accept you in our hearts. Help us Lord to accept your presence in us. Thank you Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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