One of the serious misunderstandings about the spiritual life is that it might somehow excuse from or substitute for real work. While it is true that the preaching of the Gospel must not be neglected so that other (even charitable) work can be done, the dignity of of the preacher does not excuse him from the mundane and necessary work of the common man. St. Paul made sure he continued working for his keep, lest we draw the conclusion that it is better not to work. Hard work has value not only in that it allows us to provide for ourselves, our family, and the poor, but also because it contributes to true humility. Not everyone has the same capacity for work, so we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but we should use our capital of life every day to the best of our ability. Work becomes a problem for our spiritual life when it is motivated by greed or ambition, but when it is motivated by our own needs, the needs of our community, and the needs of the poor, it is our God given duty.
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:
Zacchaeus was leader of the tax collectors, a man entirely abandoned to greed, whose only goal was the increase of his gains. This was the practice of the tax collectors, although Paul calls it idolatry,4 possibly as being suitable only for those who have no knowledge of God. Since they shamelessly, openly professed this vice, the Lord very justly joined them with the prostitutes, saying to the leaders of the Jews, “The prostitutes and the tax collectors go before you into the kingdom of God.”5 Zacchaeus did not continue to be among them, but he was counted worthy of mercy at Christ’s hands. He calls near those who are far away and gives light to those who are in darkness.