Wisdom 11: 22 -12: 22 Thessalonias 1: 11 – 2: 2 Luke 19: 1-10
One of the qualities of the Gospel account presented by Saint Luke is that it includes what might be considered colorful incidents about different individuals. Such is the casein the story of Zaccheus which we just heard. It is an incident that is, in a way, somewhat humorous. But it is also rich in meaning.
The encounter with Zaccheus takes place in Jericho. Jesus is still on his journey to Jerusalem and, ultimately, to execution on a cross. He has shown and taught what it means to take up the cross and follow him. Now he has come to Jericho, an ancient city that physically the lowest city in the land. There he will meet Zaccheus, a tax collector. As a tax collector. Zaccheus is following a profession that qualifies him as among the lowest of the low persons in his society. He had heard of Jesus and wanted to see him. But he was even low in stature and had to lift himself into a tree. He is called by name, converts and reforms. He thereby shares in the saving love of God in the words of Jesus.
The message is clear. If Zaccheus can be saved, all can be saved. If he can be seen as a person of faith, then faith is possible for all persons. If he can radically change his life, all can change their lives as well.
No one is excluded from the loving mercy of God, the loving mercy that Jesus proclaims. It is that loving mercy that finds it ultimate expressed upon the cross. It is that cross that we are all called upon to take up as we follow Jesus.
Any doubt or question that we might have is answered in the vision offered by the writer of the Book of Wisdom. Before the power of our creative God, even the most powerful forces of nature are like small seeds or drops of dew. Before the merciful love of God, nothing is loathed or rejected or hated. Before the forgiving presence of God, even the worst sinner, the lowliest of the low who rejects God can be welcomed back, forgiven, reconciled.
All of us, as St. Paul reminds the Christians of Thessalonika, can share in God’s purpose and calling. All of us can look forward to the fulfillment of every good purpose and effort of faith. All of us can look forward to the “Day of the Lord” without fear or alarm.
It is with this vision of faith in Jesus Christ than even death itself is no longer to be feared. Those who have distanced themselves from God because of selfishness and sin can be assured of the opportunity to celebrate because conversion and reconciliation is possible. That is the lesson to be learned from the story of Zaccheus.
Mindful that this past week we honored All Saints and we prayed for All Souls, we did so because we are convinced in our faith – like Zaccheus – of the all-powerful love and mercy of our good and gracious God.