RCL C Proper 26 Complementary
Isaiah 1:10-18, Psalm 32:1-8, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4 and 11-12, Saint Luke 19:1-10

The Gospel today takes place in Jericho, a city along the Jordan River, situated in a vast grove of palm trees. It is an oasis in the desert, the place where the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan into the Land of Promise.[1] It is the greatest fortress protecting the Land of Promise and the site of Joshua’s great victory when the walls came tumbling down.[2]

And in the Gospel today, Jericho is the site of another great victory for God. It is where salvation comes to Zacchaeus, the chief publican or chief tax collector who is rich.

Last Sunday, Jesus told us a parable about another tax collector who went to the temple to pray. He throws himself on God’s mercy, claiming to be a sinner, and Jesus proclaim that this tax collector went home justified. Zacchaeus does much the same thing.

He starts off as a lurker, but look what happens. Jesus calls him by name. Zacchaeus just wants to see him, but Jesus calls him by name. That moment when Jesus looks up into the sycamore tree on the street in Jericho is a great victory for God.

Not one of us can say that God has not searched for us, found us in our self-imposed distance, and called us by name. God is like that, seeking and saving the lost, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel.[3]

What does God have to do to get us, you and me, to come down out of our tree, and do what God wants us to do? Many of us are, like Zacchaeus, lurkers, hanging on at the fringe, wanting to see him, wanting to know a little more about him, and wanting to hear him say our name, to recognize us and to bless us.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, God does these very things over and over again at every Eucharist. He shows himself to us in his self-offering on the cross and in the memorial of it in the sacrament. He reveals himself to us Sunday-by-Sunday in the good news that is his Gospel. He calls us each by our name in our baptism and confirmation, and when he calls us to be his people in a confused and confusing world desperate for meaning. We have only to give him an affirmative answer: do his will, accept his forgiveness, or walk in the paths of good works he strews around our feet.

When Jesus looks up at Zacchaeus, he shows him the tenderest love. And that tender love when met with Zacchaeus’ coöperation makes him, in the words of the great hymn that we sang today, “ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven.”[4] Our coöperation, meeting that same tenderest love, produces the same results. What else could we ask for?

[1] Joshua 3:16.

[2] Joshua 6.

[3] Saint Luke 19:10.

[4] Hymn 410, Stanza 1.