Zacchaeus isn’t a billionaire, just wealthier than the average person. While his name means “clean” or “innocent,” he has come about his money in suspicious ways. As the chief tax collector, he’s in cahoots with the Roman government and shunned by the crowd. When Jesus comes to town, Zacchaeus, the wee little man, decides he doesn’t want to miss him, so he climbs up the famous sycamore tree. When Jesus sees Zacchaeus up high, he tells him to come back down to earth and demands to go to his home. The crowds are disgruntled. “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?” (The Message).
That’s exactly what Jesus does because that’s who Jesus is. Jesus associates with people who are marginalized and with sinners who’ve lost their way. Zacchaeus may be hated by the crowd, but he’s loved and valued by Jesus. When Zacchaeus welcomes Jesus into his home, he has a conversion moment where his entire life, including his wallet, is redeemed.
Zacchaeus recognizes his brokenness. He has defrauded his own people to get where he is. He has demanded two servings of dessert when everyone else gets only one. Zacchaeus repents. He commits himself to changing his ways and doing justice. He turns in a new direction: “I give away half of my income to the poor. And if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damage.”
Zacchaeus reveals the miracle that happens when Jesus visits our household. Notice that Jesus doesn’t argue about the numbers, tell Zacchaeus to fill out another pledge card, or demand full access to his checking account. Jesus simply says, “Today is salvation day!” The gospel comes to Zacchaeus’s house when Jesus arrives, and Zacchaeus is transformed.
Jesus, may your salvation come to our household and redeem all aspects of our lives so that we are generous to all. 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 afflictions” 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. How can you wait actively for God’s response to your prayers and complaints? How will you enact God’s response when it comes?
Read Psalm 119:137-144. How do you follow God’s commandments in the face of injustice and corruption?
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12. The work of the church has never been easy. How does your faith community work to exude God’s love in a time when many reject or feel rejected by church institutions?
Read Luke 19:1-10. When have you run to Jesus? How can you share your experience so others pursue Jesus as well?
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