Date: Sunday, November 10, 2019
There was a closing segment on ABC Evening News about a little girl, Eva, hearing sounds for the first time. After medical implants she could hear the voices of her Mom and Dad. She was startled and then she calmed. A smile came on her face. She could hear her parents calling her by her name. Our readings have a common theme of calling. The author of the Book of Wisdom, poses a question to God: How can creation exist or be preserved without you willing it? – “had it not been called forth by you!” St. Paul writes to the Church at Thessalonica: “We always pray for you, that our God make you worthy of his calling.” In our Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus calls: “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” We are called into existence. We are called to be part of God’s plan. We are called to welcome Jesus into our hearts, into our lives.
The name “Zacchaeus” means “pure.” The name does not suit Zacchaeus. He is a collaborator working for a foreign government. He is despised within the Jewish community. While he is wealthy from fees levied when he collects taxes for Rome, he is not happy. There is something missing. He seeks something more in the person of Jesus. Being short of stature he climbs a tree to see Jesus. However, Jesus sees Zacchaeus, calls him down and then expresses a desire to come to his home. When onlookers grumble about Jesus going to a home of a public sinner, Zacchaeus holds his own by asserting that he will give half of his possessions to the poor and repay four times over anything he has defrauded. Zacchaeus has changed. The beatitude of Jesus has come true: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.”
We, too, are called by God to “come down” from the height of our sin and pride, from worldly attachments, to welcome Jesus humbly into our hearts, to hear Jesus call us by name. We, in turn, can call others to experience God’s mercy and be transformed by God’s grace.