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Opinion

Small man, big heart

GOD'S WORD TODAY - Manuel V. Francisco, S.J. -

Zacchaeus was a person of small stature. His own people hated him because of his occupation. He was a tax collector, and as such, he was seen as indirectly supporting the hated Roman rulers of his time. And of course, it was known that tax collectors also engaged in extortion because of the occupation’s “added benefits.”

Zacchaeus seems to be an interesting person. Because of his small stature, it was probable that his neighbors called him names to ridicule him. Even our own Filipino culture has ridiculous names for small people. We use “pandak”, “unano”, and “bansot” for people like Zacchaeus.

Hurtful names bring hurtful memories. And often, those who are hurt may just be waiting for an opportunity to get back at those who hurt them. Perhaps Zacchaeus was thinking that one day he would be a “giant” among his peers, and that he would lord it over those who had called him names. But that was before he encountered Jesus.

Jesus loved Zacchaeus for who he was. Zacchaeus did not feel small in the presence of Jesus. And this experience of unconditional acceptance was something new to the hurting Zacchaeus. It was a pleasant surprise for him.

 His desire to see Jesus proved to be the experience that would make him turn over a new leaf. His encounter with Jesus made him realize what he had done in the past, what he was doing in the present, and what he ought to do in the future. Thus, in response to Jesus, Zacchaeus gave half of his possessions to the poor and paid four-times the amount those he had cheated. He became a new person, a new big person in the eyes of Jesus Christ.

 This is why Zacchaeus has always been regarded as one of the big-hearted people in the Gospels. He had the desire to seek. He had the heart that listened. And most of all, he had the will to follow the movements of God’s call. In Jesus’ love, Zacchaeus grew. In Jesus love, he felt and understood that he was loved absolutely. In Jesus’ love, he was inspired to share the love that he had received from Christ.

Let us have big hearts that are grateful. And let us welcome our Lord who wishes to stay with us, and who wishes us his love, mercy, and peace.

Every time I read the story of Zacchaeus, I am reminded of Dr. Onofre Pagsanghan’s “Sa Kabataan.” Let me end my sharing it with you.

— I —

Isa sa mga salitang napag-aralan natin sa wikang Pilipino ay ang salitang “nabansot.” Kapag ang isang bagay raw ay dapat pang lumaki ngunit ito’y tumigil na sa paglaki, ang bagay na ito raw ay nabansot. Marami raw uri ng pagkabansot, ngunit ang pinaka-malungkot na uri raw ay ang pagkabansot ng isipan, ng puso, at ng diwa. Ang panahon ng kabataan ay panahon ng paglaki, ngunit ang ating paglaki ay kailangang paglaki at pag-unlad ng ating buong katauhan, hindi lamang ng ating sukat at timbang. Kung ga-poste man ang ating taas at ga-pison man ang ating bigat, ngunit kung ang pag-iisip naman nati’y ga-kulisap lamang, kay pangit na kabansutan. Kung tumangkad man tayong tangkad-kawayan, at bumilog man tayong bilog-tapayan, ngunit kung tayo nama’y tulad ni “Bondying” ay di mapagkatiwalaan— anong laking kakulangan. Kung magkakatawan tayong katawang “Tarzan” at mapatalas ang ating isipang sintalas ng kay Rizal, ngunit kung ang ating kalooban nama’y itim na duwende ng kasamaan — anong kapinsalaan para sa kinabukasan.

— II —

Kinabukasan. Kabataan, tayo raw ang pag-asa ng Inang Bayan. Tayo raw ang maghahatid sa kanya sa langit ng kasaganaan at karangalan, o hihila sa kanya sa putik ng kahirapan at kahihiyan. Ang panahon ng pagkilos ay ngayon, hindi bukas, hindi sa isang taon. Araw-araw ay tumutuwid tayong palangit o bumabaluktot tayong paputik. Tamang-tama ang sabi ng ating mga ninunong kung ano raw ang kamihasnan ay siyang pagkakatandaan. Huwag nating akalaing makapagpapabaya tayo ng ating pag-aaral ngayon at sa araw ng bukas ay bigla tayong magiging mga dalubhasang magpapaunlad sa bayan. Huwag nating akalaing makapagdaraya tayo ngayon sa ating mga pagsusulit, makakupit sa ating mga magulang at sa mahiwagang araw ng bukas makakaya nating balikatin ang mabibigat na suliranin ng ating bansa. Huwag nating akalaing makapaglulublob tayo ngayon sa kalaswaan at kahalayan, at sa mahiwagang araw ng bukas bigla tayong magiging ulirang mga magulang.

Kabataan, ang tunay na pag-ibig sa bayan, ang tunay na nasyonalismo, ay wala sa tamis ng pangarap, wala rin sa pagpag ng dila. Ang tunay na pag-ibig ay nasa pawis ng gawa.

ATING DR. ONOFRE PAGSANGHAN HUWAG IN JESUS INANG BAYAN JESUS ZACCHAEUS
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