Saturday, October 29, 2016

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 11:22-12:2
Ps 145 1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13,14
2 Thes 1:11-2:2
Lk 19:1-10

The story of Zacchaeus is fascinating.  On the literary level it is a story with rich details: the unruly crowd, the short man running ahead to climb a sycamore tree, the grumbling  when Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house, the dinner conversation and finally Jesus’ promise that  “Salvation has come to this house.”  It would be easy to film this scene for a movie. The atmosphere and dialogue are already given.  The story of Zacchaeus is fascinating because Zacchaeus is us.   He is us because he is a man of contradiction and confusion.  He is a man who doesn’t always do the right thing but who, when he is aware of his sinful nature, tries to atone for his sin. 

This story appears very late in Jesus’ public ministry.  His reputation had spread throughout the area.  In another two chapters we hear the narrative of the Last Supper.  There is a tension underlying the story as Jesus nears Jerusalem.  Zacchaeus  had obviously heard about this Jesus.  He knew his reputation. There is no other explanation for why would go to such lengths and risk looking ridiculous by climbing a tree, just to get a look at him. The questions we must ask about Zacchaeus—and the questions we must ask ourselves—is, What did Zacchaeus expect to see?  Who did Zacchaeus expect to see?   Who and what do we expect to see in Jesus?  A  miracle worker who healed the sick and the lame?  A political leader?  A hot headed radical who fought legal and religious establishments?  A run of the mill wisdom teacher and wonder worker like all the rest?  A nice guy but nothing special?  Once we ask those questions there is one more question we must ask ourselves,' Who is Jesus for each of us?'

There is an interesting bit of wordplay in this gospel.  We must pay attention to it. We read that: “Zacchaeus was seeking to see who Jesus was.”  Then we hear Jesus’ say, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”  Jesus is seeking the one who is seeking him.  Jesus wanted to meet the one who wanted to meet him.  And so it is for us.  Jesus is seeking us even before we seek Him.  And he continues to seek us even if we quit seeking Him.

There is a challenge with this narrative.  As is true of many of Biblical accounts, there is no real ending.  There is no conclusion such as,  "And they lived happily ever after."  What is the rest of Zacchaeus' story?  What is the rest of our story?  We don't know the end of his story.  We will not know the end of our story until it has ended.  Perhaps we should all go home and write on a sheet of paper:  "After Jesus and his followers left Zacchaeus' house and the servants had cleaned up and gone to bed, Zacchaeus poured himself a glass of wine and sat by the dying fire.  He thought . . .  . . . "   Then continue the story in your own words.  You can keep it short at 300 words or write a fifteen chapter novel.  The result will tell you a great deal about yourself. 

Zacchaeus' story is a conversion story.  It is the story of a man who, upon his first encounter with Jesus, vowed to reform his life.  He vowed to give half of his possessions to the poor.  He promised to reimburse those he had extorted four times the amount he had overcharged.  Once again we confront the challenge that we don't know what happened next.  Did Zacchaeus make these promises in the heat of the moment only to renege when he considered exactly what he had promised?  Did he question why he committed to this man?   Did he discard the gift of faith as so many do today when confronted by more lucrative, politically acceptable, or fun options?

Zacchaeus is us.  He is us who seek to find, to know, and to see Jesus.  And we are being sought by Jesus more avidly than we can imagine.  We need only come down from our tree to be welcome at the table of the altar.  We need only descend from the perch where we are trying to catch a quick look at the Son of Man to partake of the supper where we are assured, just as Zacchaeus was assured, “Today salvation has come to this house.”


Finally got some gorgeous non-rain weather.  By late afternoon I had to take the camera out.  

This guy was moving fast on the river on this seeming combination of a kayak and surfboard.  The first photo is him heading downriver.  I didn't think I would see him again but he turned around while I was still on the bridge and the second shot is him heading back through the center of town.

The lovers' locks on the Butchers' Bridge catching the rays of the setting sun.

Ljubljanski Grad overlooking the finish line for the Ljubljana Marathon.  The marathon is being run tomorrow beginning at 10:30.  I expect few people at the English Language Mass because travel is going to be impossible before and even worse after.  Mass it at 11.  

Looking through the ivy covering a rail in the bridge.  The river was higher earlier in the week after much rain.  It is looking fairly normal now.

Cafe overlooking the river.  One of the charming characteristics of the cafes along the river is that you don't see those ugly plastic Target chairs.  Some of the cafes have chairs that look more comfortable than others but no plastic.  Makes a difference. 

Two views of the done and spires of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas.  I like the lamp on the bridge.

I did not get these shots on the walk.  They were breakfast yesterday morning.  Br. Robert picked them.  He called them Birch Tree Mushrooms.  At least that is what they are called locally.  He cleaned them, sliced, them and sauteed them with onions and garlic, adding only two eggs at the end of cooking.  They were excellent with good bread.  

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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