Thirty-First Sunday of the Year

Posted on Nov 3, 2016



30 October 2016


Gabe Huck who used to work for Cardinal Bernadin in Chicago

wrote that he had been struck while visiting a church in California

by what was written on the front of the altar.

He said, “We’re used to seeing familiar texts on the fronts of altars like

‘Take and eat,’ or ‘Do this in memory of me.’”

In the church he was visiting there was no familiar quotation.

He said, “This altar had the words, ‘This fellow eats and drinks with sinners,’ on it.

The words come from Chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel which we read earlier this year.

The words are echoed in today’s gospel.

Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem.

He doesn’t intend to stop in Jericho at all but his plans change when he meets Zacheus.

This sinner, this collaborator with the Romans, this jerk,

becomes more important to Jesus than whatever plans he had.

The folks who’d turned out to see Jesus are shocked, angry.

And the Lucan author has the crowd say: “He’s gone to stay in the house of a sinner.”

There’s another important comment the Lucan author makes that’s very easy to miss.

This is the last dinner Jesus has before the last supper.

Who does he choose to eat and drink with?  Sinners.

We all theoretically admit that we’re sinners.

The problem is that we’re all pretty convinced that we can point out other people

who sin more than we do–who are real sinners.

When the flap over admitting politicians who were pro-choice to communion

developed, one bishop–Kinney from St. Cloud, wrote,

“The part we all forget is that before we come to communion

we all say, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.”

We don’t say, “Lord, the person next to me is not worthy to receive you.”

The issue here is not that other people, bishops might want to exclude people from communion.

The real issue is that Jesus ate and drank with sinners.

The real issue is that Jesus does that every weekend here with us.

Concretely, the next time we’re pointing the finger at some one else, or counting their sins,

we have to ask ourselves, “Is that Zacheus?  Will Jesus be staying with him tonight and not me?