Thank goodness. Thank goodness God has come to seek and save the lost. Jesus reveals to each of us a God who has a relentless desire to save each of us.
At the root of the dissatisfaction in this Sunday’s gospel is envy. Even though they are not treated unfairly, the first workers of the day complain because they are envious of the generosity of the Lord. And if the love of God were finite or limited, they would have a point. But, God’s love is infinite, and we cannot be more fulfilled if we are saved. God’s love is without limit, and so everyone can be loved in fullness by God.
I came across an article a few weeks ago that proposed one way to understand generational divides in the Church in this way. It was a question of two values: identity and inclusion. For young people who are active in the Church, it is important to have “identity markers” to help them to understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. For others, it is important to welcome the lost and broken into the Church and to include them. Today’s first reading and gospel show us how to do both.
It is interesting that today’s gospel story of Zacchaeus could be seen as a summary of the entire gospel. The mission of Jesus is quite interesting, as fundamentally he travels around helping the broken to know they are powerfully loved by God. Zacchaeus, despite his wealth, is one such broken person. While the gospel does not explicitly confirm that Zacchaeus cheated people, his position as a tax collector, his immediate statements about correcting fraud and extortion, and the reaction of the crowd seem to suggest Zacchaeus has not always been a man of good character. But the loving gaze of Jesus, and a surprising invitation make a big change in his life. Here how the gospel can be reduced to four movements or steps, and see how your life can change by embracing them.
We might not be used to reading the Bible in this way, but with careful notice one can see that often the events of the New Testament are foreshadowed in the Old. Today Saint Paul gives us one of the most common examples, the comparison of the First Adam, who by one act, sinned, causing us all to inherit sin, and the New Adam, Christ, who by one act, redeemed all opening the door to salvation. It serves as a reminder that we should do our best to hear the warning Jesus gives to us in the gospel. We should be awake, on guard, on the watch, so that we can clearly experience the presence of God wherever we find it.