Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Zacchaeus

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 -- Week of Proper 5, Year One
Saint Barnabas the Apostle

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/ for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

[Note:  I'll be suspending writing Morning Reflections in the near future.  I've been doing these for almost ten years, and it's time for a break.  It seems that this early-morning time of writing is also the time when my 2-year old granddaughter most needs my attention.  I need to take up that wonderful opportunity.  As soon as the Speaking to the Soul blog on Episcopal Cafe finds my replacement, I'll suspend the Morning Reflections emails, podcast and blog.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
     (Book of Common Prayer)
EITHER the readings for Tuesday of Proper 5, p. 970
Psalms 61, 62 (morning)      //     68:1-20(21-23)24-36 (evening)
Deuteronomy 30:11-20      
2 Corinthians 11:1-21a      
Luke 19:1-10

OR
the readings for St. Barnabas, p. 998
Morning Prayer:  Psalms 15, 67 //  Ecclesiasticus 31:3-11 // Acts 4:32-37
Evening Prayer:  Psalms 19, 146 // Job 29:1-16  //  Acts 9:26-31

I chose the readings for Tuesday of Proper 5

There is something wonderful about how Zacchaeus responds to Jesus.  Maybe he is a good model for all of us.

Let's set the stage.  First -- Zacchaeus knows his "short-comings."  (Bad pun.)  He is a tax-collector.  He knows that he is a sinner.  He is outside the circle of acceptance.  But he is drawn to Jesus.  There is something wonderfully attractive that compels him to climb a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus passing by among the crowd.

To some extend, we are all like Zacchaeus.  We know many of our own short-comings.  We recognize some of our failures and self-centeredness.  But we are drawn to goodness and to God.  We would like to be in that circle of those who know themselves to be comfortable with God, at peace with themselves and the world.

Jesus responds to Zacchaeus with an unqualified acceptance and an offer of friendship.  "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today."  That is the offer and invitation Jesus gives to each of us.  Jesus wishes to be with us, to eat with us and to visit with us today. 

Zacchaeus' response is a joyful one.  He is so happy that he responds with an extravagant, nondefensive, free generosity.  He gives half his possessions to the poor and promises to return four-fold to those he has overcharged in taxation.  His actions are not reluctant or forced.  This is what he wants to do to make amends.  It is also what he recognizes will free him from the greed and dishonesty that has previously bound and haunted him.  When Jesus loves and accepts him, Zacchaeus spontaneously responds with joyful, generous gladness.

When you know you are completely loved, completely safe and completely accepted, you are free to be who you are.  You can live non-defensively -- openly and generously.  Zacchaeus is a great model.

In some sense, Zacchaeus fulfills what the law says today in Deuteronomy.  "Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away....  No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe."  Zacchaeus did not have to struggle or debate to decide what to do, what was right for him.  He responded to his heart's deepest direction.  He knew intuitively what was good, and he chose it.

In every given moment, we can sense within our heart and intuition what is called for.  The 19th century spiritual director Jean Pierre de Caussade says that each present moment carries with it the demands and opportunities of that moment.  It can only one be three things:  1. to do some present duty; 2. to enjoy some present joy; 3. to suffer something that is necessary.  Pretty simple. 

If we know ourselves to be completely loved, safe and accepted, we can be free of guilt, fear or compulsion in our choice.  We can choose spontaneously and generously whatever the moment brings to us.  Whenever we choose that way, Caussade says we are completely within the will of God, cooperating fully with what God is doing for the healing of the world.  We are doing all that is within our power to promote God's reign right now in this present moment.  Caussade says it doesn't get any better than that.


Lowell
___________



Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to: http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

2 Comments:

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Lesley K said...

I always worry about Zaccheus.

I am glad for his repentance, and those he has overchargued certainly deserve the reparations.

Yet, as you have noted, overcharging is the only way Zaccheus has of making a living. What will he do when, a few months from now, his larder is empty and his children are hungry and he is looking at a tenant farmer asking how much tax he owes?

And nowadays, who among us would choose to be a whistleblower when we observe wrongdoing by our employers?

How many would resign our jobs over a matter of principle in this tough economy?

How many of us are caught in an oppressive system that forces us to choose either to "cheat just a little bit, everybody does it, nobody is really getting hurt", or deprive ourselves and those we love of the basics of human dignity?

But Jesus does demand hard choices from us: "Those who would save their life will lose it." "Deny your father and your brothers." "Take up your cross and follow me."

How can I blame anyone for their choices when I can't defend all of my own?

-- Lesley K

 
At 4:57 PM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for the insights, Lesley. You are exactly right. Zaccheaus must give up his job and his entire way of life. My hope for him is that he knows it will be worth it, and that it actually will. Some people who have hated him will have to forgive him though.

Most of us are compromised by the systems we give ourselves to. He's an amazing one. Not many like him. Not me.

Lowell

 

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