October 30, 2016
Wis 11:22-12:2 Ps 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14 2Thes 1:11-2:2 Lk 19:1-10
There is a meme that circulates around social media every few months that says “Be like Jesus: Spend enough time with sinners and prostitutes to ruin your reputation with religious people.”
The flip side of that would be to say “Be like Zacchaeus: Follow after Jesus so boldly as to ruin your reputation with worldly people.”
Zacchaeus was not a popular man to begin with. He was a tax collector who admits to Christ that he has lied and cheated and stolen money from the citizens whose taxes he collects. He was also a man of some political power in that time and place, unpopular with the people, perhaps, but absolutely necessary to the powers that be. He was also pretty far on the short side, which can be a hard thing for a man who wants to command respect. In the South, we liken such men to Bantam roosters, small but showy, and full of strut, which is exactly who Zacchaeus seems to be until Jesus comes walking down the road.
Wanting to know more about Jesus, Zacchaeus throws dignity and the appearance of propriety to the wind, hitches up his britches (or skirt or whatever he was wearing, the Bible is vague about clothes) and scrambles up the nearest tree. At that moment in time, he would do anything just to catch a glimpse of the Lord.
Which has me wondering if we would do the same. Are we willing to throw our concern for what other people think out the window and put ourselves in the way of public ridicule in order to just catch the merest sight of Our Lord?
After Mass this morning, I sat with a group of moms who were discussing how they could possibly manage fitting Tuesday’s Holy Day of Obligation into their already stretched schedules. Making it to Mass with their children meant that they’d be late to school, miss band practice, have to skip a baseball game, or some other social obligation for their children. Each mom was going through some serious mental hand wringing at the thought of the repercussions they or their children would face if they went to Mass – one was worried about an unexcused absence, another about the hit her daughter’s grades would take if she missed band (which is a class for a grade, and a hit would mar her daughter’s 4.0 average), there were worries about upsetting other moms if the usual playdates were missed, and it went on from there. As I listened to the group, all of their concerns were about incurring the disapproval of other people, and having to live with the consequences of that.
And I couldn’t help thinking that our group of moms needed a little of Zacchaeus among us. We needed to straighten out what was truly important, and it’s not GPAs, play groups, or whether or not we’ll be shunned by the playgroup’s Queen Bee mom. We need to stop worrying so much what the world thinks of us, hitch up our britches and gird our loins, and then get to scrambling up that tree. Jesus is waiting for us just behind the doors of the Tabernacle. What are we willing to risk for just the merest sight of Him there?
photo credit: By Belayet2014 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons