Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 5: Year 1
“Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” (Luke 19:8)
Meeting Jesus changed Zacchaeus in good ways. But this Jesus experience requires us to look deeper into what’s going on. Zacchaeus is the only tax collector in the Bible referred to as a “chief” tax collector. Such a title would even further remove him from the house of Israel.
Zacchaeus says that, “if,” he has defrauded anyone he would pay it back four times as much. This was the requirement of the Law of Moses, the upholders of which, have rejected Zacchaeus from their society. But Zacchaeus remembers and respects the tradition from which he came.
From pondering this statement it is quite possible that Zacchaeus has not knowingly cheated anyone. He limited his authority to only what was required. We can’t assume that people in positions of authority are evil. Remember, our Lord Jesus was very deliberate when he stopped under that sycamore tree and looked up at Zacchaeus and invited himself to his home. People are not always who we think they are, but they are always who Jesus knows them to be. And that includes you.
Regardless of how the temple authorities and the people have labeled Zacchaeus, our Lord Jesus has circumvented their authority and positioned Zacchaeus in a place of honor – a place of honor that predates the Law and its often misguided interpretations. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham: (Luke 19:9). Yes, a son to Abraham. This is a place of real honor. Jesus says something that might get past an inattentive reader. He says “salvation has come to this house.” Yes Lord, because you are the salvation of the world and you are in his house.
Lastly Jesus says, “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost:’(Luke 19:10). I think some of us are lost. But I think, like Zacchaeus, some of us are thrown away. Being thrown away also makes us lost, but let us take a page from Zacchaeus’ playbook. Even if we are rejected from our community of faith, let us remember the practices of prayer and our baptismal covenant and the commandment of loving others anyway. Zacchaeus remembered the Law of his tradition even though he was rejected by them. Bless Zacchaeus. Bless the lost of today. Our Lord Jesus has come to seek you out.
Let us live in order that we might love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John