An old Christian adage says that every Christian needs to experience three conversions—a conversion of the heart, the head, and finally the pocketbook. Zacchaeus has all three. He slips out of the grip of his own greed. He is a changed person, living into the justice Jesus wants for the entire world.
When Jesus says to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house,” the word he uses for “house” is oikos, which is the source of our word economy. The root of economy is the basic needs of the household. Sometimes economic justice is personal, meaning it touches our everyday lives and interactions with people. Maybe you have given generously to help others in their times of need. You do so because salvation has come to your household and freed you to share what you have.
Other times economic justice is systemic. This kind of justice is more difficult to come by, partly because we allow our governments and institutions to be greedy for us. Systemic economic justice reminds us that we are all children of God and that the world is one household. If the salvation of Jesus has come to our household—our entire economy on a global scale—then even our institutions can be redeemed. We can pay attention to the products we buy, asking whether people and the planet were treated fairly in creating them. We can protest unjust policies around wages, poverty, education, and health care. We can take action for more affordable housing.
All of this is easier said than done. Our wallet is often the last part of us we want Jesus to redeem. As we grow in faith, we readjust our saving, our spending, and our giving because we recognize everything we have is a gift from God, and we long to be generous to God’s household throughout the world.
Generous Savior, open our hearts to your economy so that we share lavishly and create communities of abundance. 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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