What’s Up Zak? Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reaches out to Zacchaeus. He is only mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. Zacchaeus was a tax collector in Jericho and is described as being rich. We are told that he was short in stature. The fact that the Gospel writer bothered to mention that physical trait suggests that he was noticeably short.
Jesus’ showing favour to him causes the people to grumble. Tax collectors had a reputation for being corrupt and as being traitors to the Jewish community because they worked for the Roman Empire. Jesus must have impressed Zacchaeus. We are told that he hurried down from the sycamore tree.
Jesus’ act of showing special favour in going to his house for a visit pays off. The wealthy tax collector offers half his possessions and volunteers to pay back those he has cheated. Jesus obviously knew who to go after.
The name Zacchaeus means pure. Thus, some people use the tax collector’s story to illustrate Jesus’ words from Matthew 5, Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Others have contrasted the story of Zacchaeus with that of the rich young man in Luke 18. Both were wealthy persons, but one was unable to let go of his possessions, while the other gave half his possessions to feed the poor.
And, now for something a little different … What’s Up, Zak? or Up A Tree is by Paul Dallgras-Frey and is posted on www.biblestoryguy.com. I cannot do the illustrations justice, so check the site. I just offer a few key lines.
There are two things you should know
… you should know about Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a little man. And Zacchaeus was a rich man. And nobody liked him very much. Okay, that’s three things.
… mostly because he got rich taking money from other people and giving it to the Romans. Nobody liked the Romans much either. That was because they came in from another country like a bunch of big bullies.
… And that’s how he got rich. Zacchaeus was a very rich man… And Zacchaeus was a little man… without a lot of friends.
The tale goes on, and ends with this message.
Zacchaeus was a little man, but now he felt ten feet tall!
And you know what?
Jesus knows you too! Jesus knows you by name, just like he knew Zacchaeus.
He wants to come and tell you how much he loves you. He wants to tell you the good news of his home in heaven.
He wants to laugh with you and cry with you, and be with you no matter what.
But Jesus can’t exactly walk up to your front door and ring the bell. It would take a LONG time for Jesus to walk up to every house in the world! You’d be all old and wrinkly by the time he finally got to yours… and he wouldn’t be able to stay very long. There are a LOT of houses in the world to get to!
Back when Jesus stayed at Zacchaeus’s house, all the other people grumbled
because each one of them wanted Jesus to stay at THEIR house. But when Jesus
was on earth, he just couldn’t stay at every house every night. That’s why Jesus went to heaven.
Jesus went to heaven so he could send his Spirit to live with each of us –
all at the same time! Of course, you can’t see his Spirit.
But you can’t see love either. You can’t hear it or smell it or touch it.
But you know when love is there. That’s how it is with Jesus.
When Jesus comes to you, you can’t see him, or hear him, or touch him.
But you know that he is there. Jesus wants to
come to your house today! All you have to do is ask him in!