NOVEMBER 3, 2019 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Lec. 153)
1) Wisdom 11:22–12:2
2) 2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2
3) Luke 19:1-10 Gospel related: CCC 549, 1443, 2412, 2712
God is a God who love[s] all things that are; he is a lover of souls. God is mercifuland overlooks our sins to give us the opportunity to repent.God’s love sustains and holds us into being at every moment. Breathes into us the breath of life, every moment like Adam’s first breath. This love of God empties itself into our humanity in Jesus. God takes the initiative andcomes to meet us – not just halfway, but all the way, in Jesus.
Today we heard the story of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus;let’s focus for a moment on the details of this passage. This story takes place in the town of Jericho, which is perhaps most famous for the opening battle of the Israelite occupation of the Promised Land. During that battle, the Hebrew army issued battle trumpets, normally restricted to squad leaders, to every soldier. At night they marched around the city, blowing their trumpets. The inhabitants of Jericho were so frightened that they surrendered without a fight. The walls came tumbling down.
Perhaps Luke, in his Gospel, wants us to see how other walls can come tumbling down. He writes, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and a wealthy man, wants to see Jesus. By this time in Jesus’ ministry, who wouldn’t, right? But Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus, because he was too short to see over the crowds. Sowe hear that he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see him.
Jesus sees Zacchaeus in the tree, orders him down from it, and then says, today I must stay at your house.Hmm…it appears he is no longer “passing through,” as he initially intended! Zacchaeuscame down quickly and received [Jesus] with joy. He repents, offers to give half his possessions to the poor, and repay…four times over, anyone he has defrauded.
And while the crowd grumbles at what they see, complaining of Jesus’ association with sinners, they miss history repeating itself in front of their eyes: for here in Jericho, Jesus has broken the walls of sin and greed that have surrounded Zacchaeus, and Zacchaeushas surrendered to Jesus’ trumpet call to become a disciple. Jesus tells him, Today salvation has come to this house.
Whatever tree we need to climb to see Jesus, whatever tree we need to descend in order to embrace him, salvation awaits us. Jesus seeks us out, and with the gift of faith we respond. For into the heart and house of one who repents and welcomes the Son of Man, salvation has come. Salvation has come to this house, and will soon be present on that altar. In grace we are called to it, with grace may we receive it and announce it to the world.