31st Sunday of Ordinary Time
Please don't judge me... God’s attitude towards those who sin, continuing the theme from last week.
The Gospel tells a story about a man named Zacchaeus, a rich collector of taxes and likely well fed. Then one day because he climbed a tree to see, the Son of God invited himself over for dinner! These guys, the tax collectors, not Jesus, usually got wealthy by destroying the lives of those upon whom they preyed – bleeding them dry through threats, extortion, and murder. Such is the stereotype, but maybe not true of this guy.
This might remind you of that time, in Revelations when St. John painted us a beautiful image of Jesus: “I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and eat with him and he will eat with me”. Rev 3:20
The crowd, as we heard, was not impressed. They were shocked and scandalized, although maybe moved by some sort of jealousy as well: “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Sure, based on 'the norm' they might have been right, since to them it seemed like a sure thing in light of their lived experience; every tax collector is a crook and even worse a Jew stealing from Jews... the most detested person in the town! But 'the norm' isn't necessarily the truth about everyone. Have you ever been judged in this way?
Undaunted, but humble and fully aware of the meaning of the crowds judgement against him, Zacchaeus confidently tells Jesus what he’s really guilty of: “Half of my possessions I give to the poor; and if I find I have taken more than I should, I pay back fourfold.” Jesus, clear enough to be understood by the crowd, pointed out, “Today salvation, wholeness, has come to this house, because Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham.” ‘Son of Abraham’ was a title for a good-living Jew and sometimes applied to Christians in the early Church. “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost”. As we say today, never judge a book by it’s cover! But, just like those folks in the Gospel, we often superficially judge others.
The words in the first reading, ought to be in our minds and on our lips as frequently, at least, as we are tempted to be more like the crowd and less like Jesus!
“Lord, you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things that you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?
You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love all that lives.”
And pray for others, along with St. Paul…
“We pray continually that our God will make you worthy of his call
and by his power fulfil all your desires for goodness
and complete all that you have been doing through faith;
because in this way the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
will be glorified in you and you in him,
by the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
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Fr. Blair Gaynes has been in the Diocese since 2008.