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A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

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Liturgical day: Tuesday 33rd in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (2Macc 6:18-31): Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man of advanced age and noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork. But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement, he spat out the meat, and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture, as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life. Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately, because of their long acquaintance with him, and urged him to bring meat of his own providing, such as he could legitimately eat, and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice prescribed by the king; in this way he would escape the death penalty, and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him.

But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood; and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God. He told them to send him at once to the abode of the dead, explaining: «At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws». Eleazar spoke thus, and went immediately to the instrument of torture.

Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed, now became hostile toward him because what he had said seemed to them utter madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned and said: «The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him». This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.
Responsorial Psalm: 3
R/. The Lord upholds me.
O Lord, how many are my adversaries! Many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, «There is no salvation for him in God».

But you, o Lord, are my shield; my glory, you lift up my head! When I call out to the Lord, he answers me from his holy mountain.

When I lie down in sleep, I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. I fear not the myriads of people arrayed against me on every side.
Verscicle before the Gospel (1Jn 4:10): Alleluia. God loved us, and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Lk 19,1-10): When Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the city, a man named Zaccheus was there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus who had to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheus, come down quickly for I must stay at your house today’. So Zaccheus hurried down and received him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble and said, «He has gone to the house of a sinner as a guest». But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, «The half of my goods, Lord, I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much». Looking at him Jesus said, «Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost».

«The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost»

Fr. Enric RIBAS i Baciana
(Barcelona, Spain)

Today, I'll be Zaccheus. This personage was a wealthy man and the chief of the Publicans; I have more than I need and, perhaps too often, I behave like a Publican and forget about Jesus Christ. Amidst the crowd, Jesus seeks Zaccheus; today, amidst our world, He is precisely looking for me: «Come down quickly for I must stay at your house today» (Lk 19:5).

Zaccheus wants to see Jesus; if he does not run ahead and climbs up the sycamore tree, he will not be able to see him. I would also like to see God's deeds as much as possible!, but I'm not too sure I am willing to behave like a fool as Zaccheus did. To allow for Jesus' reaction, the disposition of the chief among the Jericho Publicans is required; and, if he does not hurry up, he may eventually lose the opportunity to be touched by Jesus and be therefore saved. Maybe I have had too many occasions to meet Jesus and maybe it is about time to be courageous, to leave home to meet him and invite him to enter me, so that He can also say about me: «Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost» (Lk 19:9-10).

Zaccheus receives Jesus into his home, his life and his heart, even though he probably does not feel worthy of a visit like that. His conversion is total: he begins by giving up any ambition for riches, followed with the intention to share his goods and he ends up with the strong decision to impart justice, while remedying his sins. Maybe, since a long time ago, Jesus has been asking me something similar, but I did not want to hear him and turned my deaf ears; I must still be converted.

St. Maximus said: «There is nothing God loves more and pleases him best as a man converting with true regret». Let him help me to make it come true today.