Thirty-First Ordinary

The Introduction 

Some new ideas for Halloween: As usual, the gospel is peopled with more characters than other readings, giving us lots to think about for masquerade purposes. You get a second chance to consider Jesus – though he is the historical person and not the post-resurrection “Christ” that Paul references in his letter. Would there be a difference between the two costumes of Jesus Christ, in your design? And how about “the Son of Man,” a particular title for Jesus, the meaning of which even scholars are divided about? If you had three people in costumes as Jesus – the Christ, the man, and the Son of Man – how would you distinguish them, if at all? If that’s too much theology to handle at a Halloween party, you might take the easy way out and comes as Zacchaeus. (Note: Only short people could consider Zacchaeus, since that’s his outstanding characteristic.) Nature lovers might take a shot at portraying the sycamore tree. Endless possibilities!

How many titles of Jesus can you name, and what does each reveal about who he is?

Okay, most people will not have a Halloween party on biblical themes. But using religious imagination to reflect on Scripture is a time-honoured tradition. Each Sunday, identify with a member of the biblical cast. Consider what you learn through this identification.

The Scripture (Luke 19: 1 – 4) Jesus and Zacchaeus

Jesus entered Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way–he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.

The Connection

‘He came up a little short’ is a line my favourite footy team uses when a player fails to make the try. It is also a good description of Zacchaeus, physically and morally. Not only was he short of stature, but his actions as a chief tax collector left much to be desired. Only his eagerness to meet Jesus and his willingness to appear foolish in the eyes of others by climbing a tree made him vulnerable to the transforming grace of Jesus.

No matter how tall we are, we are like Zacchaeus. His sins of greed and collaboration with the enemy were public knowledge. Our sins are probably less widely known but no less real. We have to admit our sins and maybe even appear a little foolish to open ourselves to the invitation of Jesus, ‘today I must stay at your house’. The temptation is to hang with the crowd and keep a low profile. If we face the truth and brave the crowd, Jesus will speak to us and transform our lives.

The Commissioning

Go the extra mile!
We will go out of the way to strengthen our faith.
Stay the course!
We will endure with the person to whom trouble has come.
Forgive generously!
We will put hard feelings aside, and restore the ties of friendship.
Live fully!
We will rejoice in each day’s openings, and make the most of them.

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