Scriptural Arson


Some thoughts on last Sunday’s Scripture Readings at Mass:

St. Luke (Lk 19:1-10) tells us that as Jesus passed through Jericho, there was a man named Zacchaeus who sought to see who He was.

Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector in Jericho—a chief public sinner. “A wealthy man” apparently from extorting money.

Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.

He ran and climbed up a tree… in front of people. You just didn’t do those things, especially if you’re a short dude and a chief tax collector! Yet Zacchaeus had such a longing to see Jesus that he risked looking like a fool. As my parish priest punned, he went out on a limb.

Jesus, who knew Zacchaeus before he was born, looks up and tells him get down from the tree. Jesus sought him.

“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”

And he came down quickly and received him with joy.

Now Zacchaeus really got to see who Jesus is, firsthand—a friend of sinners.

When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”

Jesus doesn’t call him out on his sins…Zacchaeus repents! As it says in the book of Wisdom: “you overlook people’s sins that they may repent” (Wis. 11:23). That verse reminds me about St. John Bosco (I just watched the movie on his life, St. John Bosco: Mission to Love), in imitation of the Lord, overlooked the sins of the kids on the street and befriended them that they might repent.

As a result of this encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus vows to give half of his possessions to the poor. That’s not all–he’s giving back 4 times the amount to anyone he extorted from.

Jesus wanted to in stay in his house—of his heart. In our hearts.

The “Son of Man [Who] has come to seek and to save what was lost” wants us to seek Him–even if may mean looking like a fool. In seeking Him in our prayer, may we make resolutions to change.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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