Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

tissot - zacchaeus.jpg

Luke 19.1-10

“Come down; I must stay at your house today”

Down the road he comes; the crowds are mobbing him; they've heard of his preaching and his miracles; they're anxious to see him. Jesus moves slowly through the crowd and then he stops, and speaks to a man who is perched up high in a tree. The man is a tax-collector who has been ripping off his neighbours for years, making himself rich at their expense. Unwelcome, elbowed with hostility to the back of the crowd and too short to see over their heads, he had climbed the tree as his only way to see the passing preacher. And of all people, Jesus speaks to him and invites himself to dine with him.

Surely, not with him? Doesn’t he know who this man is? What is he thinking of? What are the people in the crowd to think? What is the man himself to think? What are we to think? Here we see yet another example of how Jesus reaches out to sinners. Right there, before the eyes of the hostile crowd, he reaches out to this man, treats him with dignity, addresses him by name, takes the first step. For, as Jesus says of himself, “the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost”. That is why he is known as the one who eats with tax collectors, consorts with outcasts, and walks and talks with physical and moral lepers.

And the man, Zacchaeus? A little man he might be, morally as well as literally, yet his determination to see Jesus has, unexpectedly, changed his life. His seeking has taken him beyond mere curiosity, beyond simply a glimpse of a passing preacher, to a personal encounter with the Lord himself. And in that encounter he has been touched by grace and his life is transformed. The same holds true for us, whoever we are, whatever good we may have achieved, or whatever wrongs we may have done. To us also, each one of us, Jesus says “I must stay at your house today” – simply longing to be with you and to enrich you with my grace.