TUESDAY HOMILY: The Dreaded Shrinks
In the children's story The Twits by Roald Dahl, the characters suffer from "the dreaded shrinks". The selfish characters seem to become smaller and smaller the more selfish they become. There's a lesson there that stands the world on its head:
GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) In the children's story The Twits by Roald Dahl, the horrible characters suffer from "the dreaded shrinks". The outlandishly selfish couple seem to become smaller and smaller the more greedy and nasty they become. There's a lesson there that stands the world on its head: The more you try to become great by being selfish, the smaller you become. On the other hand, according to gospel values, the smaller you become the greater you grow.
Whenever I hear the story of Zacchaeus the little tax collector I'm reminded that Jesus chooses little people. This very human and touching story is today's gospel. Zacchaeus is not only a man of short stature, but he's a tax collector. To understand just how despised and "little" Zacchaeus was in everyone else's eyes we have to understand about the Roman taxation system. It was simple. Rome told the governors of the various provinces how much tax money they wanted. The governors hired local tax collectors and gave them a couple of soldiers to help enforce the tax collection. The tax collectors were paid by collecting whatever extra they thought they could get from their customers.
Consequently, most tax collectors took as much as they could get. If this didn't make them despised enough, the Jews considered members of their own community who worked as tax collectors to be traitors to their patriotic cause. They had sold out and were working for the hated Roman overlords. Here's the irony--Zacchaeus wanted to be a big man with wealth and power and prestige. He had soldiers to do his bidding. He had wealth and influence, but it didn't make him big it made him little.
But it was his being little that enabled Zacchaeus to meet Jesus Christ. Because he was little he climbed the sycamore tree to see Jesus, and because Jesus recognized his true littleness he could see the intrinsic value of Zacchaeus.
We have so many plans for ourselves. We have so many ideas of how we're going to become big and important and powerful and successful. We have so many delusions of grandeur. After the big show is over, however, we eventually have to come down where we ought to be. We have to stop being the big people and get a case of the shrinks. We have to become little if we are to be truly big. We have to become small to become great.
This is the wisdom at the heart of the teaching of St Therese of Lisieux. Her "little way" is a way of spiritual childhood. She probably loved Zacchaeus because he was little. He would have been a symbol for her of the "little way" of simplicity and trust which lies at the heart of the gospel. Jesus said about the little children, "unless you become like one of these you cannot enter the kingdom." He might also have said about Zacchaeus, "unless you become as little as this little tax collector you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."
I have written about the little way of St Therese and compared it to the "little Rule" of St Benedict in my book, St Benedict and St Therese, the Little Rule and the Little Way. St Benedict also calls his monks to follow his "little Rule for beginners". His little Rule emphasizes the need for child like obedience, simple trust and a heart that is open ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Year of Faith News
- THURSDAY HOMILY: Choosing to Live the Way of Forgiving Love
- WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Me, Myself, and I, How to Overcome the Unholy Trinity
- TUESDAY HOMILY: Christian Perfection
- Does the Lord Really Mean We Are to Be Perfect?
- Pope Francis On Gospel of Life Sunday: Let Us Say Yes to Life!
- SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - Thoughts on Fatherhood
- Taking Custody of Your Heart
- OMG! LOL! NOT.
- MONDAY HOMILY: When it Comes to Love, Super-size It
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?