Luke 19:1 He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." 6 So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." 8 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." 9 Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost."
This is an extraordinary story:
A Jewish collaborator with the Roman oppressor receives a blessing from a community leader who most often associates with the oppressed. This is a prime example of the unmerited generosity of Jesus. He is able to see beyond the traitorous activities of a greedy tax collector and offer him an opportunity for a new beginning with God and community.
We who follow Jesus are challenged to show the same undeserved generosity to the people we meet. This is difficult to do – but unavoidable. We are offered a way to do so by borrowing from the story of Zacchaeus – as we invite Jesus into our private spaces he helps us to become generous. As our thoughts turn towards Christmas, let us be challenged to prepare gifts for those who are not able to give us gifts in return.
Ordinary 31 / Pentecost +24
53 God Can Change Lives
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 323.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.