Chapter Talk – 31st Sunday of the Year – October 30, 2022, cycle-C
The gospel for this Sunday is uplifting as we behold the gift of salvation in the encounter of Zacchaeus with Jesus (Lk 19:1-10). To see, in order to see Jesus, Zacchaeus, who is short, and because of the crowd, climbs a sycamore tree. There is a deeper intention that moves him to such an action, one where he makes himself vulnerable to collective, judgmental voices such as ‘what a fool’…‘a tax collector, what is he doing here’? Zacchaeus will not be stopped; his heart has opened, if ever so small, there is an opening, a beginning. Grace is working in him as he seeks out Jesus. Then, so unexpected, an encounter happens. Jesus notices this unusual happening; he who knows the heart, sees Zacchaeus, places his gaze upon him, notices a change within Zacchaeus. Here is this wealthy tax collector, working on behalf of the Roman empire, who climbs a tree ‘to see’…To see what? To see whom? To see this special Teacher that he had heard about. But why? Something was tugging at his heart, and he followed it regardless of the murmurings of the crowd. And Jesus’ reply upon ‘seeing’ a future follower is priceless: ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house’.
‘Today I must stay at your house’…today salvation has come to your house. An encounter…first the very small movement of turning, of Zacchaeus seeking to ‘see’ the Teacher…And then the One who is God’s incarnate Presence of love, forgiveness, mercy, sees the heart of Zacchaeus, sees the transforming shift unfolding…and confirms that indeed ‘salvation has come to the house of Zacchaeus’…The exterior act (climbing a tree) expresses an interior movement: there is desire…desire to ‘see’, desire to be met in truth, in love, in compassion. For us we do not have to climb a tree to see. But what does help us to see the One who brings grace to any encounter, the One whose Presence unveils the truth of ourselves in any given moment? Perhaps just to rise above all the taunting voices, negative voices that put us down or put our sister or brother down. Or voices of fear, anxiety, hopelessness. We rise above these noisy voices interiorly, with the knowing that we are in God, in the One ‘whom we move and live and have our being’, even if we do not feel or experience it.
Pope Francis noted in an Angelus talk that the name ‘Zacchaeus’ means ‘God remembers’ (November 3, 2013). He goes on to say that no one or no thing “can erase from the memory and heart of God even one of his children. ‘God remembers’, always he never forgets those who he created”. So, we are not orphans within the Divine mystery. Within this Mystery, desire, our desire creates the space for the encounter, for the Spirit to whisper that salvation has come to your inner dwelling place, the place of encounter, the place where we are met by unconditional love.
Pope Francis in this same Angelus talk said: “In the depths of our hearts, let us listen to his voice which says: ‘Today I must stop at your house’; that is, in your heart, in your life. And let us welcome him with joy. He can change us, he can transform our stony hearts into hearts of flesh, he can free us from selfishness and make our lives a gift of love”. Let our desire (to see, to change) raise us up above the clamoring voices of doubts and negativity, to behold the God who ‘remembers’, who will not abandon us but who meets us with grace, with the transforming grace that renews us, that makes us new in mind and heart.
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess