On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus encounters in Jericho a throng eager to see him, a familiar scene in Luke. Jesus also encounters a rich tax collector, also familiar. In the preceding chapter in Luke, Jesus has told two parables: the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector and the parable of the rich ruler.
Today’s reading carries a tone of immediacy, even urgency, in the narrative as well as in the action itself. Aware that Jesus is “passing through” Jericho, the rich tax collector Zacchaeus runs ahead and stakes out a strategic position in a sycamore tree. Its wide, low branches and short trunk make it easy for a short man like Zacchaeus to climb. As Habakkuk positioned himself at his watchpost to receive God’s word, so Zacchaeus positions himself above the crowd to see Jesus as he passes by. Miraculously, Jesus notices him poised above the crowd. When Jesus reaches him, he looks up and tells him to “hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”
Of all the people in the crowd, Jesus fixes his eyes on Zacchaeus! And despite Zacchaeus’s occupation, not to mention his reputation and position in the community, Jesus invites himself to his house for a meal.
Jesus’ willingness to dine with Zacchaeus extends his concern to everyone in the crowd, especially outcasts, the marginalized, and those on the fringes of society, including the rich. Jesus looks directly into our eyes, seeks us out of the crowd, and invites himself into our lives. By welcoming Jesus and responding affirmatively to his invitation, we can know the salvation, grace, and wholeness that Christ has generously given to everyone, even those who have caused our suffering.
Gracious and loving God, as you have welcomed me, help me to invite and welcome others, especially the marginalized and dispossessed, to your gospel feast. Amen.
Habakkuk stands aghast at the “destruction and violence” all around and wonders how justice never seems to conquer. At the end of the reading, God contrasts the proud, whose spirit “is not right in them,” with the righteous who live by faith. The psalmist delights in God’s righteousness and in the commandments of God; however, he admits that “I am small and despised.” The psalmist’s “trouble and anguish” appear in Second Thessalonians also, but here the “persecutions and the af ictions” endured by the faithful serve a particular end: They stand as signs of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel reading Jesus tells Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house,” which reminds us that the righteous who live by faith are not necessarily the socially or religiously acceptable.
• Read Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4. What situations in your life and world cause you to cry out to God, “How long?”?
• Read Psalm 119:137-144. Who have you known who trusts God implicitly? How has that person’s example helped you in the past? How might you let it help you in the future?
• Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12. How will you offer Christ’s peace to someone you meet today?
• Read Luke 19:1-10. Jesus’ interaction caused Zacchaeus to trust God and straighten out his life. Where and with whom might God be leading you to share with others the heart of Christ?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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