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January 22, 2023

Homily on the Fifteenth Sunday of Luke (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

At one time, Jesus Christ passed through Jericho. And then someone named Zacchaeus, the head of the publicans and a rich man, sought to see Jesus, who He was, but could not follow the people, because he was small in stature. Running ahead, he climbed a fig tree to see Him, because He had to pass by it. Jesus, when He came to this place, looking, saw him and said to him: "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I need to be in your house." And he hastened down and received Him with joy. And everyone, seeing that, began to grumble and said that He had come to a sinful man. Zacchaeus, having repented, said to the Lord: “Lord, I will give half of my property to the poor, and if I have offended anyone, I will repay fourfold.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is the son of Abraham, for the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.”

Why, listeners, did Jesus Christ go into the house of Zacchaeus, and not to someone else from the inhabitants of Jericho? Of course, not because Zacchaeus was an important and rich man in the city, more important, perhaps richer than others, but here's why: because Zacchaeus was a sinful man. And those who murmured did so precisely because they murmured that Jesus Christ went to a sinful man. And Jesus Christ Himself later said to those who murmured that it was precisely for this reason that Zacchaeus was a sinner.

What does it mean? There were no doubt many sinners in the city of Jericho, but there was none like Zacchaeus. Yes, other sinners did not consider themselves sinners, but Zacchaeus considered, recognized himself as a sinner. He did not even dare to ask Jesus Christ to come into his house, because he considered himself a sinner, unworthy of Jesus Christ coming into his house, although he wished it with all his heart and therefore accepted it with joy. So, this is how Zacchaeus attracted the attention of the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving grace: by the fact that he recognized himself as a sinful man, perishing, he considered himself more sinful than everyone in the city.

Thus, Jesus Christ Himself comes to save that person who considers and recognizes himself as a sinner.

Christian Listeners! We sometimes think: why is it that the Savior rarely comes to our hearts, rarely comes to the house of our soul? Most of all, this is because we do not recognize ourselves as sinners, we do not realize that for us, for our salvation, the help of the Savior is needed. We consider ourselves sinners, but such that even without the grace of God we can be saved from our sins, we consider ourselves so sick that our illness can go away by itself, without the special help of a doctor. No, listeners, some bodily illnesses cannot be cured without the special help of a doctor, without the help of their own home remedies, and not a single sin will be forgiven us without the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; only God can forgive sins.

So, let's not stop asking the Lord God more often: grant me to see my sins, so that in this way we recognize ourselves as sinners. When we recognize ourselves as sinners, then we will believe in Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ Himself will then come into our hearts to save us, just as He Himself came to Zacchaeus to save his house. Amen.

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