The story of Zacchaeus reminds us of God’s abundant mercy, which sees far more than the human eye and is ever-willing to extend redemption to a repentant, contrite heart.
Unless we acknowledge our failings and rely on God to help us, we will never be able to turn our lives around and conquer the adverse life circumstances we once chose for ourselves. In God’s eyes, there is no man who is not redeemable. It is we who need to take the first step toward Him in humility.
Just as one needs to communicate appropriately with one’s friends and family to maintain relationships, one needs to pray, converse with God on a regular basis. Prayer should not be motivated solely by our temporal desires, but by our need to grow in faith and become more intimate with God.
Unfortunately, we often experience God as a capricious figure whom we can manipulate with the “right” prayer formula, ritual or devotion, thinking that our insistence might magically convince Him to give us what we want, regardless of the goodness of our request. Prayer is not only asking, but also listening.
The Samaritan showed more faith than the Jewish lepers, which signifies that following outward forms of religion with precision is not necessarily a sign of a strong relationship with God. The outcaste Samaritan had more faith than the Jews despite being born in a heretical sect.
It’s no wonder that, in this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 17:11-19), Jesus is more than willing to heal the ten lepers who shouted from afar: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus became man in order to remove all the barriers that stand between each person and God.
Self-indulgence and apathy can block our path to God, which results in eventually being separated from Him in eternity. To build a firm relationship with our Maker, we must first learn to put our treasures here on earth to the use of aiding our fellow underprivileged man.
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a cautionary tale of how wealth can lead us away from the kingdom of heaven if we do not use it to serve humanity, following the Word of God.
Money is useful only in that it is beneficial in building lasting relationships, relationships that bring about the betterment of humanity and draw us closer to God.
As Christians, we are called to use our wealth wisely for the benefit of our fellow man and to put morality and ethics before profit to avoid becoming exploitative.