Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings for today's Mass
Audio for homily
The scriptures are pretty much silent
when it comes to the appearance of its characters.
But along comes Zacchaeus and for some reason
St. Luke decides it’s important for us to know
that Zacchaeus was short.
Who cares if Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to see Jesus?
Does it really make any difference?
More important than his height
is Luke's description of Zaccheus as someone who was
seeking to see who Jesus was…
Not just to see Jesus,
but to see who Jesus was:
to better understand what he was all about...
everyone here this morning climbed something
to enter this church:
not a sycamore tree -
but the front steps or the shorter back steps
or the access ramp -
we all climbed something seeking to see who Jesus is…
Now, Zacchaeus had trouble seeing Jesus passing by
because he was – well, you know – short!
There was something about Zacchaeus
that made it difficult for him to see who Jesus was.
is there something about you, something about me,
that makes it difficult for us to see who Jesus is?
One thing about me
that makes it difficult for me to see who Jesus is,
fear that if I see who he is in my life
he may look me in the eye and ask something of me
that I may not be ready or willing to give.
I need to "climb" over that fear
if I'm going to see who Jesus is.
For some it may be their doubt
that makes it difficult for them to see who Jesus is:
doubts about faith; doubts about the church;
doubts about God…
Doubt can be a pretty steep incline
but some of us may have to scale our doubt
to see who Jesus is.
What makes it difficult
for others to see who Jesus is may be:
an unhealed hurt,
disappointment in prayer,
old (or recent) sins,
a skeptical heart,
anger at the church
worry and anxiety…
And for others…
Well sometimes only we ourselves can name
what it is that makes it difficult for us to see
who Jesus is in our lives...
Zacchaeus climbed a sycaore tree to see who Jesus was
What do we need to climb?
How do we need to change our perspective,
take a look from a different angle,
focus more intently on Jesus
so that we might see more clearly
who he is our lives?
Zacchaeus had the sense
to separate himself from the crowd,
to get above things,
to go beyond his own limitations,
to stretch himself -
all to see the One he was seeking.
And once he did that, once he climbed that tree,
then the One he was seeking not only saw him
but called him down from the tree
- and went home with him!
Zacchaeus was a tax collector despised by his neighbors.
Perhaps the message here is that Jesus comes for everyone
and that for each of us,
no matter how bad we've been,
no matter how good we've been -
there's always more to seek,
more to discover about who Jesus is.
I could climb my own personal sycamore tree
every day of my life -
and every day - see Jesus more clearly
than I did the day before.
Acknowledging our own limitations
and looking for ways to work with them,
and to work around them,
and to get beyond them,
is a challenge that will be with all of us, always.
We're here, today,
because we want to see Jesus more clearly today
than we did yesterday, or the day before,
or last Sunday.
And we’ve come to the right place:
we’ve climbed the right tree!
For in this place:
we can hear Jesus' very voice and word in the scriptures;
we can meet him in one another;
and as he invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house,
so he invites himself to our table, his altar.
After meeting Jesus,
Zaccheus gave half of all he had to the poor.
Jesus gives us much more than half of all he has,
he gives his all, everything for us,
here in the Eucharist as he did on the Cross.
In bread, broken as his body, he gives us healing.
In the cup, poured out as his blood, he gives us life.
Jesus called Zacchaeus some 2,000 years ago
and he calls each of us this morning
to come down quickly
for he wants to stay with us,
to make his home with us.
For even as we come here to seek and find him,
he has long been seeking us,
to find us
and give us his peace.
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