Sunday 31st October Thirtieth Week Ordinary Time Gospel and Reflections

Zacchaeus was a short man who struggled with himself.
He was spiritually hungry even if he did not know it.
 We know a little about him. He was a rich man, a tax collector for the Romans who had wronged many people. 
He must have been pretty smart, because he was very wealthy but  at the same time he was hated by the people, with good cause. He was a social outcast. 
When he woke up that day his external needs were amply met. 
He probably lived in a nice house but with few friends, no validation of himself, certainly no acceptance of who he was, he was an outsider.

His internal needs must have been many, yet he may have had no one to share his success with.

He was finding that his success did not lead to any real satisfaction. He was isolated and lonely, probably few talked to him.

There is a crowd gathering in Jericho, which was not far from Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Jesus was a minor celebrity so news had probably spread of his visit.
He may have heard some of the stories about Jesus, knew there were some type of healing of blind men etc and maybe he wanted to see if the hype was true, wanted to see for himself what kind of person this Jesus was. 
 Zacchaeus may have been having trouble with his way of life and his  beliefs regarding spiritual matters and was increasingly confused. 

The way from his heart to his head, sometimes seemed impassable.  Perhaps he said  to himself that morning, If I’m going to believe something, or in
something, my head wants to know what I’m signing up for –
He was not sure what to expect but his intrigue leads to him climbing a tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus..

The most amazing thing about this story is that Jesus knows exactly who Zacchaeus is even before they are introduced.

He calls him by his name and tells him he wants to go to his house for a meal.
The simple fact that Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus is enough, but Jesus knows Zacchaeus even before that desire is articulated. 

He knows us too-  by our name - even though we think we have to climb up a tree to be seen.

Jesus knows us and says come down to my level -you don't have to to elevate yourself to be with me. . 
That simple desire to see is met by a response that says I will come to your house and sit and eat with you !!
Jesus invites himself !!

In that instant Zacchaeus must have been stunned that Jesus not only recognised him but wanted to talk !

The simple fact of knowing that Jesus loves him and the realisation that there is nothing in this world that compares to that, must have been exhilarating for Zacchaeus.

When we struggle to see that God loves us, if the message has never really hit home that Jesus really loves us, not in a superficial way- but in a deep sense that says I know every one of your needs and your pain and I have been there and I love you, it is important to remember that Jesus says this to every single one of us in our struggles :

He says I have walked this road for YOU !

There is a  dramatic shift in this parable from the things Zacchaeus thought he needed to the realisation that he wanted to give it all up right there and then, something few of us can imagine we could respond to fully in our lives.
Everything Zacchaeus  had ever known was worth letting go of.  
Imagine that !!
Yet the reality of the story of Zacchaeus is that he could give up everything... Even if we can't match that it is worth thinking about.....

Jesus did not stop at the tree  because He found a worthy soul, or because He found a soul full of faith, or even a repentant heart. 
He stopped because His Heart was filled with compassion for a man who was out on a limb—spiritually speaking.
The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost-
He came to seek and save all of us.
We all need to know that .

So if we are feeling out on a limb in our lives no matter what our circumstances, no matter what our fears or uncertainties may be, how about letting go of all of it ?

Let's clamber down from our perch in the trees to embrace the love of God today and everyday.... 

There are other parables with similar messages: 
Lost sheep, lost coins, prodigal sons and daughters - it' s all the same ....

"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

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