Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

Recently I read that the one of the worst thing about being a short person is that you can never see at concerts. It is obvious that this problem was also true in Jesus’ times.

Large crowds followed Jesus constantly during his ministry. For instance, large crowds were present at the Sermon on the Mount and the story of the five loaves of bread and two fish. These would have felt like concert experiences.

Under this premise it is logical then to expect Zacchaeus to climb a sycamore tree to see the man he was seeking, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, he would have been unsuccessful in his search. His determination served him well.

For the last few weeks, we have heard stories from the Gospel of Luke about the value Jesus places on persistence. We heard about the lost coin, the prodigal son, and the persistent widow.

Jesus uses these stories to bring a point home: when we are desperate, we will do what it takes to remedy the situation.  Isn’t that true? Haven’t we all been there at some point in our lives or know somebody who has been there?

Jesus loves a desperate beggar, especially the sinner seeking repentance. These are the types of people upon whom Jesus’ ministry is more effective.  And these are the type of persons in whom our ministry will be more impactful too.

Therefore, we should consider making a habit of our ministry to be on the lookout for those who desperately seek to see Jesus in us.  If we succeed at noticing and properly minister to them, we too can transform them – through the Holy Spirit- like Jesus transformed Zacchaeus.

Jesus gave us an example of how to look past the obvious when ministering.  As his servant, let’s turn the gaze of our ministry toward the periphery. Let’s move past the familiar and comfortable. Let’s pursue those desperately seeking to see Jesus but are disoriented, lost, blocked by the crowds. They are among us. They’re at the edge of the crowd. They are calling our attention in usual ways. Our ministry is intended for them.

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Painted in the year 2000 by the Monastic Fraternity at St. Peter Church, Tilden, Wisconsin, USA
Painted in the year 2000 by the Monastic Fraternity at St. Peter Church, Tilden, Wisconsin, USA

‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ (Luke 15:6)

Today we celebrate the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. There is not much I can say to express the meaning of today’s solemnity other than Jesus’ love is infinite and merciful. His love is such that he sacrificed his life so we could be saved from evil, redeemed from sin, and be resurrected.

Jesus’ heart is our model to selfless compassion. Jesus is the shepherd I can trust. I know that when lost, Jesus will leave all his sheep in the desert to look for me and he will rejoice when he rescues me. That should be a consolation of mercy for all of us.

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus radiate his light on us this day.

Father, we honor the heart of your son, broken by our cruelty, yet symbol of love’s triumph, pledge of all that we are called to be. Teach us the see Christ in the lives we touch and to offer him living worship by love-filled service to our brothers and sisters. We ask through Christ our Lord.

Alternative Opening Prayer, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (Sacramentary, 1973)

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