Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time: Bulletin Column

Version 2

November 3, 2019

Dear Followers of Jesus,

Zacchaeus had to stretch to see Jesus in today’s gospel, Luke 19:1-10. He was short in stature and a tax collector and wealthy man. From his position in life, seeing Jesus was not easy because wealth and power are not the perspectives in the gospel in which we naturally find a person who is searching for what Jesus brings. Something brought Zacchaeus to this point. Perhaps he was just fed up with how he was living his life. Something inside him knew to seek out Jesus.

I love how Jesus sees him in a tree. I wonder what brought Jesus to look for him. Jesus sees all of us who are searching for him as well. Jesus invites Zacchaeus to come down from the tree. This simple line delights me. Zacchaeus comes down from the tree and Jesus received him with joy. I love the fact that joy was the beginning of this encounter with these two men. There was no judgment or regret or apprehension or shame. There was only joy. I love that.

So Jesus invites himself to the home Zacchaeus. That seems sort of daring. Then we read that in fact it was daring for Jesus to come to the home of a sinner. Gossip is like fire. Jesus doesn’t seem to care. Jesus feels right at home at the table of real people. Zacchaeus makes all these promises immediately.

Zacchaeus decides he will give money away to lift up the poor. He knows that he has exhorted many people and makes promises to fix those situations. I want to go back and interview him and find out what exactly happened to him. I want to know what brick wall he found himself against in order to change. Or was it what he heard about Jesus? Yes, that must have been it! He heard that Jesus was a religious figure that did not travel with judgment in his soul. His eyes were filled with hope as he listened to the stories of people marginalized by sin and destructive behavior. Jesus offered tenderness and did not point his finger in shame. Jesus reputation was one of healer and kindness drifted along his path.

In the home, Jesus offers Zacchaeus salvation. I would love to have seen the look on Zacchaeus’ face. Can you imagine that after all his years of creating shady tax deals; he gets the real deal with Jesus presence and his mercy? Zacchaeus must have stood tall! He must have left his tea to get cold at the table. Zacchaeus found his real self that day in his home in the encounter with Jesus. He was lost and is now found. His empty soul becomes filled with hope. I wonder if there were other sentences and even paragraphs from this story while Jesus was sitting with them. How could it be so easy?

Change is easy when we are ready to find Jesus. His love waits for us no matter what we are preoccupied with, no matter how our souls have wandered away, no matter the distractions of our hearts. I want to hear more from Zacchaeus. I want him to tell us more about that moment in which he finally felt his heart’s desire in the person of Jesus. Imagine for your self such a scene. I wonder if it could happen to you?

Peace,

Fr. Ron

 

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