Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Thes 1:11-2:2
There is no better way to prepare to celebrate Mass on the Lord's Day than to peruse and ponder the Scriptures we will hear on Sunday. Sunday's Gospel could easily be put this way: Zaccheus, Oh he's the guy that is not much bigger than a Smurf, but has more ego than one can imagine. He meets someone with zero ego, who’s going to ask him to hang up his ego, and get a life.
Notice that Jesus “entered Jericho and was passing through it.” He was just passing through it. The crowd that had gathered didn’t really interest Jesus. His itinerary only had Jericho as “passing through” town, not a stop-off point or a rest stop. It wasn’t like Jesus intended to stop for a salad and some olives in Jericho. He was just passing through. While Jesus loved individuals and lived in a group community, he avoided crowds.
Now as Jesus was walking through town, the crowds pressed around him, effectively blocking out Zacchaeus. The little Zaccheaus was bobbing around trying to shove in here and there, to make a wedge from the outside perimeter of people and reach the inner circle where this famous itinerant preacher would be visible.
Zacchaeus is the “chief tax collector” and he’s rich. And given that he’s not that tall, he has an ego the size of Texas. The point is that Zacchaeus thinks he is the last person Jesus is going to notice. So he does something: He climbs up and a tree to get a better view.
So there is this wee little man hanging in a tree. He gets Jesus’ attention and promptly invites himself over for dinner. So, Jesus comes to him. Jesus approached him. Jesus invited himself into Zacchaeus’ life.
The one who was a seeker, is now the one who is sought.And Jesus calls to Zacchaeus, “Come down out of that tree!”
Can you imagine how fantastic those words must have sounded to Zacchaeus? "Come down out of that tree! Stop embarrassing yourself! Don’t be afraid! No need to avoid your problems! Get down out of there before you hurt yourself and break something important!”
Then notice what happens. Zacchaeus experiences transformation. He responds to the invitation, and his subsequent conversation with Jesus shows that this is a repentant sinner.
WE call this humility.
WE call it repentance.
WE name it conversion.
No ego here. Just a life turned around for the glory of God and in the service of others.
So, let’s forget our egos, gather up our garments and climb a tree to see Jesus.