Nov 1, 2019

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycles of Faith
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Christ loves us first. So much of the Christian life is as simple as that. Today’s Gospel is a prime example! “Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man … was seeking to see who Jesus was.” 

We may have gotten used to the story of Zacchaeus, this short, seemingly innocent man who climbs a sycamore tree in his desperate desire to see Jesus. But this colorful, children’s Bible illustration isn’t what the gathering crowd would have seen. They would have seen the white collar criminal. Tax collectors were notorious for extortion. They were collaborators with the oppressive Roman overlords, overcharging for taxes and skimming a cut off the top. And how does Jesus respond to this man?

“Come down quickly,” Jesus says, “for today I must stay at your house.” If you had been there, would you have believed it? No doubt there were other disciples in the city or, at the very least, kind, generous, and just people. “Good” people. But those aren’t the people Jesus chooses to share a meal with. Christ loves us first. He chooses Zacchaeus even before the man makes a public profession of his repentance.

“The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” We may not be tax collectors and extortionists — I hope not! — but we all have elements of our lives that are lost. We have wounds from childhood, unresolved anxieties or attachments, daily fears. No matter how “put together” we are, we all have our lost moments. Some days, it may feel like we can’t see over the ways they crowd our inner life. Today’s Gospel invites us to do something a little strange. Don’t let your flaws, failures, or hang-ups prevent you from seeing Jesus. Take a deep breath. Go climb a tree, because Jesus is passing by. And he wants to stay in your heart today.

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