Homily for November 15th, 2016: Luke 19:1-10.
Zacchaeus was an outcast. He collected taxes for the hated Roman government of occupation. And everyone knew that much of the money he collected went into his own pocket. When Jesus went to dine at Zacchaeus’ house, the good religious people of
are scandalized. “He has gone to stay
at the house of a sinner,” they protest. What for them was a scandal is for us
good news. Jesus, we heard in the last sentence of our gospel reading, is the
one who “has come to seek out and to save what was lost.” Jericho
Those words tell us who Jesus is. Then, now, for all time, Jesus Christ is the one who does not look at what we have been, or even at what we are. Instead Jesus looks at what, deep in our hearts, we would still like to be. He is the one who has come to search out and to save people without hope, the most abandoned, those most deeply entangled, like Zacchaeus, in webs of selfishness, self-indulgence, and greed.
“Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus tells Zacchaeus. He says the same to us today. This is our great today. This is our hour of salvation. Jesus is calling us, inviting us to his holy table. He reaches out to us in active, accepting love, though we have done little or nothing to deserve such love. He comes to us for no other purpose than to seek out and save people who, without him, are floundering, without hope, and lost.
Zacchaeus “welcomed Jesus with joy,” Luke tells us. We can share that joy. Because of Jesus Christ, and his love for us, life is not aimless, not without meaning. Our sins, our failures, our compromises are not the last word about us. The last word belongs to the One who tells us that he has come “to seek and to save what is lost.” No matter what others think of us. No matter what we may sometimes think of ourselves. There is One to whom we are infinitely precious. He is Jesus Christ: Son of man and Son too of God — our brother, our lover, our best friend; but also our savior, and our God!