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CONCERNING REPENTANCE-RESTITUTION

Read­ing Time: 3 minutes

Introductory Words

Jesus is gradu­ally approach­ing Jer­u­s­alem and he con­tin­ues to recall people’s atten­tion on the right path to the truth, espe­cially, those who are will­ing and dis­posed to listen to him. In this Sunday Gos­pel, it is Zac­chaeus’ turn to embrace the Gos­pel of sal­va­tion. Luke is just won­der­ful in his present­a­tions. Look at what he does: 1) in 18:1–8, we are taught to pray con­stantly without los­ing heart or think we have prayed enough; 2) in 18:9–14, we are taught under what con­di­tions we should pray; 3) then, in this Sunday Gos­pel (19:1–10), we have this delight­ful teach­ing that true repent­ance must be accom­pan­ied by repar­a­tion of phys­ic­al, spir­itu­al or psy­cho­lo­gic­al dam­ages caused to the oth­er per­son. In last week’s reflec­tion, I did men­tion that the tax collector’s recog­ni­tion of his sin and his plea for God’s for­give­ness must be accom­pan­ied by the resti­tu­tion of the money he unjustly extor­ted from people. Luke solid­i­fies this affirm­a­tion with the story of Laz­arus. Repent­ance, resti­tu­tion and sal­va­tion are insep­ar­able trio.

Repentance and restitution

As noted above, instead of wor­ry­ing him­self about the grumbling of the people, Zac­chaeus made known to Jesus his will­ing­ness to amend his wrong way of life. He imme­di­ately accep­ted offer­ing half of his pos­ses­sions to the poor. Instead of accu­mu­lat­ing his riches for him­self alone, he now under­stands the neces­sity of shar­ing with oth­ers, espe­cially, the less priv­ileged. Again, he prom­ised to restore four times over whatever he might have extor­ted from people. This is repent­ance in the true sense. Zac­chaeus’ fourfold repay­ment is in agree­ment with the stip­u­la­tions of the Law in Exodus 22:1. Extort­ing prop­erty or money from someone is steal­ing. And the law con­demns it (cf. Exod 20:15). Hence, whatever is extor­ted or stolen must be returned because steal­ing deprives oth­ers of what God has entrus­ted unto them. There­fore, every repent­ance must be accom­pan­ied by the resti­tu­tion of the object in ques­tion. The thing to be resti­tuted could be mater­i­al or spir­itu­al. Unlike the Chris­ti­an (New) Test­a­ment, the Hebrew (Old) Test­a­ment is more expli­cit and emphat­ic on the issue of resti­tu­tion (cf. Exod 21:33–34; 22:1–7; Num 5:5–7; Lev 6:5; 2Sam 12:5–6; Prov 6:31; Ezek 33:14–15).

Closing Words – From justification to salvation 

In Luke 18:9–14, the tax col­lect­or went home jus­ti­fied but not yet saved. In 19:1–10, Zac­chaeus obtained sal­va­tion only after prom­ising to return fourfold whatever (prop­erty or money) he might have extor­ted from people. Just pon­der on these two facts: Being jus­ti­fied and being saved. While jus­ti­fic­a­tion is a mov­ing towards sal­va­tion, sal­va­tion is the ter­minus ad quem of jus­ti­fic­a­tion and repent­ance. Let us con­sider this prac­tic­al example. If you steal some­thing from someone and later, recog­nize you have done the wrong thing, repent and finally go to con­fes­sion. After doing the pen­ance giv­en to you by the Priest, you will be jus­ti­fied but not yet saved. To be saved, you must return that which you stole to the own­er. Sim­il­arly, if you offend someone and later real­ize you have done the wrong thing and you go for con­fes­sion. You will be jus­ti­fied when the priest absolves you, but you are not yet saved. To obtain sal­va­tion, you must go to that per­son and repair the psy­cho­lo­gic­al dam­age you caused to that per­son by plead­ing for for­give­ness. While the first example is a mater­i­al resti­tu­tion, the second instance is a spir­itu­al resti­tu­tion. There­fore, going to con­fes­sion should not be taken as a way of avoid­ing the respons­ib­il­ity and the oblig­a­tion for resti­tu­tion. To do this would mean adding salt to injury. Even the guideline for con­fes­sion puts repar­a­tion before the actu­al con­fes­sion. That is, before present­ing one­self to the priest. The repar­a­tion involves resti­tu­tion which must be done prefer­ably before and if not pos­sible before, imme­di­ately after the actu­al confession. 

FOR DETAILS, GET YOUR OWN COPIES OF THE BOOKTHE WORD OF LIFE:
SUNDAY REFLECTIONS” (vols. I‑II-III)!! The reflec­tion for the 31st Sunday is found in
The Word of Life, vol. III, pages 602–611. Happy reading!

For details on how to get it, con­tact the author on this link: https://m.me/uchennabiblia?fbclid=IwAR2yeg4a6sDGBp9QGkIvKj6FSADumMokN6lshdE0zuo-JHs6qOmlhA7jyHo
or email me at: postmaster@uchennabiblia.com
or simply send an SMS on 08116100926, and I will get back to you.

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