Daily Office Readings for Tuesday, June 11, 2019 (Proper 5)
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.” ( Luke 19:9)
This is one of my favorite stories. The language is laden with metaphor and innuendo and special meaning for me. Apparently Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and wanted to see what he looked like. The big moment arrives when Jesus’ parade comes marching through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. The crowds are all around Jesus such that Zacchaeus, who is short, cannot see above the crowd. I have, for a long time now, thought that Danny DeVito could play Zacchaeus if a movie of this story was made. I thought this not only because of his short height but Zacchaeus also seems to be one who was a bit of a shyster. DeVito has played these kinds of roles before.
Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree which places him above the fray. He is in a place where he can see Jesus. This is what church is supposed to be for us, a place where we can see Jesus. Frankly I’ve never heard of a church or a movement called Sycamore. Its Mission Statement would be to assist people in seeing Jesus (Just a pondering thought). My barber gave me a small sycamore tree that has now grown to over 15 feet in a few short years. I don’t think its sturdy enough to climb yet. But if Jesus ever walks through my back yard in a few years, I’ll be ready.
In this Gospel of Luke Zacchaeus is a “chief” tax collector. In those days, just being a tax collector was bad enough from the Hebrew perspective. A chief tax collector meant that such a person was even further removed from the community of the Temple and the Israelite community of God, the Children of Abraham. Perhaps this is one reason Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus. Jesus had a reputation for being inclusive, something Zacchaeus may have already heard about. This might be his one chance to belong to some kind of faith community. I would have loved to have been in that sycamore tree next to Zacchaeus the moment Jesus comes close to the trunk and suddenly looks up directly into the eyes of Zacchaeus and says, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5)
I can see Zacchaeus almost falling in disbelief! But never the less, he comes down and while in the presence of Jesus, repents, turns a new page in his life and promises to correct any misdoings he has done according to the Law of Moses. Jesus proclaims a blessing on his household by saying, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.” Jesus has placed Zacchaeus beyond the Temple and back into the fold. Which, do you think is the blessing or salvation, – the repenting of Zacchaeus, or the presence of Jesus, or both? This is the inclusive Jesus Christians have come to know and love. We just need to remember to place ourselves where we can see him above the fray. When we do this, Jesus invites himself into our hearts and we become new creatures and children to Abraham. I will now close with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:
“O God, whose wonderful deeds of old shine forth even to our own day, you once delivered by the power of your mighty arm your chosen people from slavery under Pharaoh, to be a sign for us of the salvation of all nations by the water of Baptism: Grant that all the peoples of the earth may be numbered among the offspring of Abraham, and rejoice in the inheritance of Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP 289)
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John+