Sunday, November 3, 2019

With Zacchaeus

Again, this morning Jesus is caught making friends with a tax collector. As we remember, tax collectors were among the most despised members of Jewish society. They took money from their own people for the Romans, and they were despised for this collaboration with an alien power. But this morning we watch as little Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, climbs a tree to gaze down at the famous rabbi Jesus who is visiting his town. Jesus notices Zacchaeus noticing him, and invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home. 

We cannot help but notice with admiration this desire of Jesus to befriend a sinner and the openness of this notorious outsider to the presence of Christ. Jesus always praises the readiness of these outsiders - prostitutes and collectors of the tax - to change their minds and hearts. They are available – broken enough to know who they are. They have no illusions about themselves and so do not refuse an invitation to change, reform. They know they’re a mess, they know it all too well. They’ve got nothing to lose; they’ve lost it all already. And so, this morning we watch and listen as Zacchaeus makes his very generous promises to change.

This is always the case, when we sinners dare to open our homes, our hearts to Christ Jesus. In the brilliant light of his awesome beauty, of his divine presence, we see clearly who we are, what we need to do to be more faithful to him and his gospel.