Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
There is so much to love about the story from Luke about Zacchaeus.
Here we have this grown man who is wealthy and, since he is a “chief tax collector”, likely well known to all. He is so excited to see Jesus but knows that he won’t be able to because there is a big crowd and he is a short man. So, he sprints out ahead and climbs a tree. What an image! Can’t you just see it—a grown man and a wealthy one to boot up in a tree all excited and looking for Jesus? What enthusiasm! What determination! He apparently has no concern for how undignified he might look up in that tree.
And the story just gets better. Jesus sees him—it seems as if Jesus knew ahead of time that he would be there—and announces for all to hear that he will be staying at Zacchaeus’ house that very day. Jesus tells Zacchaeus to quickly get down from that tree. I bet Zacchaeus just about fell right out of that tree when Jesus said that. He was just hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus. I’m sure he never imagined that he’d be hosting Jesus in his very own home.
When Zacchaeus gets to the ground he is warmly received by Jesus. And right then and there Zacchaeus promises to give half of all that he has to the poor and to make right (and then some) on every tax collecting misdeed he has ever done over the years. And Jesus is very pleased.
While this glorious encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus is taking place, the crowd is grumbling. They are not at all pleased. Of all the people in that big crowd that Jesus might have blessed he chose the one that deserved it least—the one everyone knew was a sinner.
May we take this story to heart. May we do whatever it takes to encounter Jesus. May we risk looking ridiculous to follow him. May we be surprised by his love and grace every day. May we joyously give generously to the poor out of our gratitude for his mercy. May we know that we too have been grafted into the family and story of Abraham. And may we pause whenever we think we know who doesn’t deserve to be touched by Jesus. Because the fact is, we don’t know. Only Jesus knows who is about to be transformed by his love and grace.
- Sue Trollinger