Monday, March 16, 2020
The story of Zacchaeus has always been a fun story to tell to children. It tells of a small-statured tax collector who climbed up the sycamore tree to see Jesus, how Jesus went to stay at his house, and how Zacchaeus was repentant and gave back money to people whom he had defrauded.
Key to this story is that Zacchaeus was someone who was almost universally derided. The tax collector has never been a popular person, but in the Roman system, the tax collector was a contractor who had unlimited authority to take however much they could get out of people and only pass the “required” taxable amount onto Rome. Tax collectors were often rich, but they also knew their effectiveness was tied to the fact that they could easily provoke a rebellion, which in turn, would bring the hand of Rome down firmly on their neck. This is Zacchaeus.
Jesus doesn’t say that he is going to spend the day with Zacchaeus because Zacchaeus repented. Jesus is spending the day with him because he sees value where we most often do not. In this way, he practices a level of integration that links saint and sinner firmly together in this emerging creation. Jesus continually crosses boundaries to shrink the chasm that divides us.
We live in a polarized world where the expanse between our political, social, and theological positions grows ever wider. We need people who understand this divine integration more than ever, but it only happens when we look deeply within people who are very different from us … even people who have wronged us … to discover the Christ abiding within them. Jesus speaks to us as he boldly agrees to dine with our enemies and seeks to integrate and reconcile people and ideas we consider otherwise incompatible. I can’t help but think how different our world would be if we practiced an integrated spirituality like Jesus!
Lord Jesus, we pray that you will feast with us at the inclusive, integrated table of hope. Amen.