Monday, October 31, 2016

Meeting all the Zacchaeus'

So we've arrived at the end of this challenge. Notwithstanding, I missed two days at the end. We were crazy busy here at home. I know, I should practice what I preach (i.e. the disease of busyness) It hits home quite often. Nonetheless, we've arrived. The discipline of this last month has pulled me out of my stagnant period where I only wrote sporadically. A big thank you to Write 31 days for starting this challenge!

Hopefully I can continue this momentum and post three times a week. Hold me to it!

I would like to end this challenge with a great and urgent call within the call of "Being who God created us to be so we may set the world on fire." And it goes all too well with yesterday's Gospel reading.

Here it is, Luke 19:1-10, the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector:

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Within the layers of richness of this text, there can be found the reality of a man, a sinful man at that, who desired, more than anything, to see this Jesus. This Jesus because he probably only knew of Him from all the talk and buzz going around of this man who was healing the sick, driving out demons and preaching about mercy.

However, Zacchaeus had a difficulty. He was short in stature. So, in a very practical way, he climbed a tree. He wanted a good glimpse of Jesus. The tree was his help.

Then Jesus approaches him and says “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” Just like that. Jesus came to him. Called him by name. Jesus was coming to his house! What joy!

But what happens next is what is most important here, it's a miracle actually! Just in this simple encounter, even without Jesus actually setting foot in Zacchaeus house, Zacchaeus confesses his sins, repents and begins to tell Jesus how he will make reparation for what he has done wrong. Just with this simple encounter! One look! One word! Just like that, Jesus transforms Zacchaeus!

That is the thing with Jesus. When a heart is open. When the heart is eager to meet Him, curious to know Him, than Jesus can transform!

So here is the clincher for you. Zacchaeus used a tree. The tree was the instrument to help him see Jesus better. He used nature. In reality there are so many ways to encounter Christ today. But probably the most effective, the most powerful way, is through our witness! By telling others of this Jesus, sharing our own story of encounter with Him, we can bring many more Zacchaeus' to Christ!

So many have a difficulty out there, that is keeping them from meeting Jesus. Think of the countless things that keep hearts closed. Zacchaeus was short, but so many of us our short in so many ways beyond stature. We are proud. We are angry at God. We are unwilling to take responsibility for our lives. We are caught up in the things of the world or we simply cannot believe that the God of the universe can love us.

So let us be the instrument that others use to get to know Him, who is the one that makes us into the the person we were created to be. Let us help others to overcome their "shortness" so that they may see Him clearly. So that Jesus Christ may say"today I must stay at your house.” That he may stay forever in the home of their hearts.

Let us draw people to the source of life, the Author of love and of peace. Let us help others to be God's true creation so that, along with them, we can all set the world on fire. And what else does it mean to set the world on fire, than to bring the fire of Jesus' love to all of humanity.

(This post was inspired by my pastor's homily given on 10/30/2016 at  Ss. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church, Sterling Heights, MI.)

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