November 10, 2019 by
David Jackson in
Reflections on Sunday Gospels
Large lessons from Little Zacchaeus.
Introduction: The last sentence of today’s Gospel reads, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Jesus candidly addressed the fact that people get lost. But the good news is that he came to seek out and save the lost. Together let us pray about these ideas this morning.
Homily: Today I would like to offer you some of my reflections on how people get lost. What does it mean that Jesus seeks out not just Zacchaeus, but also seeks us out and what does it mean to be saved by Jesus?
Some years back I remember the County Executive of Milwaukee, Wi. taking some steps to provide for a growing number of homeless people. His words to describe them were “lost souls”. When you hear the words, “Lost” who do you think of?
My own reflection on this question led me to make this list: Lost = People who feel overwhelmed by life, depressed, suicidal, desperate, those who feel completely worthless, empty, those into substance abuse. Depression is experienced in many different ways and at many different levels. Some people feel isolated, unaccepted, unhappy, unloved, frustrated, powerless, a lack of connectedness; they feel lost. Some people, even children feel rejected and belittled. People feel guilty, sinful, they feel compromised or compromising. To feel lost has many different meanings in our lives.
Zacchaeus is a man of power and wealth, but yet he must have felt something missing, some emptiness. He must have felt stuck or trapped. There is a certain desperateness in his climbing that tree to see Jesus.
In many stories of Jesus he is asked something and responds. This is not an instance of “you asked me so I’ll tell you.” Luke the Gospel writer tells us, “Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.” But Jesus changes his plans. He looked up, called Zacchaeus by name, and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house. In this passage Jesus is the one who takes the initiative. This is a definite and deliberate seeking out by Jesus. Jesus accepted Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus received Jesus with joy. Nothing is forced or demanded by Jesus. It seems that Jesus looking at Zacchaeus, calling him by name and telling him that he must stay at his house was empowering for Zacchaeus. Beyond Jesus inviting himself to Zacchaeus home we are not told anything that Jesus might have said to Zacchaeus. It seems that Jesus acceptance of him was just the boost he needed to make some changes in his life. He is willing to give to the poor and make reparations.
Into Zacchaeus’ emptiness, lostness, stuckness, Jesus comes. Zacchaeus feels found, not found out. Jesus makes him feel saved not lost. Zacchaeus takes the initiative to tell how he is going to change his life. “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 house¼”
We too must realize that Jesus wants to stay with us. He knows us by name. How might Jesus be seeking us out today? Might Jesus be calling you to bring salvation, acceptance into the life of someone who feels lost?
Salvation has many different meanings in our lives.
In different ways we get stuck. Salvation is forgiveness of sin. Salvation is being able to forgive someone who has hurt us. Salvation is moving from desperation to direction. Salvation is being saved from feelings of worthlessness to a sense of self worth. Salvation can consist in being freed of vague, free floating anxiety to naming particular issues. Salvation can mean finding liberation from addiction to alcohol and other drugs through twelve step programs. Being saved can mean finding a solution to problems in my marriage or family. Salvation can mean finding a job. Salvation can mean finding help to overcome depression.
Let us each hear these words for ourselves, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Jesus truly wants to stay with you. He is looking up, he is calling you by name. He is accepting you and seeking you out. Perhaps Jesus wants to use you to save someone. How are you going to respond to this initiative of Jesus?