The good news for the day October 230
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (153)
Once, Jesus traveling to Jericho was going to pass through the place. An individual there—Zacchaeus—a very wealthy but disreputable financier, was trying to see who Jesus was; but because of the crowd he could not see him; Zacchaeus was just too short. He ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When Jesus reached the place, he looked up and addressed him: “Zacchaeus, come on down quickly; today I have to stay in your place.” He came down quickly from the tree, and welcomed him happily. When the others there observed this, some began to grouse, “Jesus has gone to stay at the house of a man we all know to be a public sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, “Look! Half of what I own, Sir, I am going to give to the poor, and if I have squeezed anything from anybody I shall pay it back four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is an authentic heir of Abraham. The point is: The Human Being has come to search for—and rescue what was lost.” (Luke 13)
This comic relief story is about tension—your and my tendency to judge people publicly “bad”—forgetting they are children of God. Perhaps during a political season, it is important to read a story about a public figure. “Tax collectors” sounds harmless, but these very public officials generally were closer to gangsters, collaborators with Nazis, and Public Enemies Number one-to-ten. Ordinary folks hated them for taking their money—but also for “squeezing” them—blackmail, thugs Roman soldiers—whatever it took to get the money.
In the eyes of you and me, Zacchaeus was an evil, bad, terrible guy. Jesus laughs, and says, “Come on down, you idiot, I will come and stay with you!” Are you following Jesus about public figures you think are “bad”? Do you see a fellow child of God—who really wants salvation? Do you laugh and say, “This too is a child of Our Father. Deep in that heart is a hunger for the Right, for the realm of what’s right, a hunger for God.”?