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Climb Higher to See Jesus

November 3, 2019,  Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time


A story is told about a famous Austrian surgeon named Dr. Lorenz. He was walking one day in a midwestern town. Suddenly a violent thunderstorm came out of nowhere. So fierce was the storm that Dr. Lorenz ran to the nearest home and rang the doorbell. When a woman answered, he asked if he could come in. But the woman, who was already upset, said “Go somewhere else! There is enough trouble in this house already.”  Then she slammed the door.


When the woman saw the newspaper the next day, she was stunned at what she saw. She saw a picture of Dr. Lorenz who had flown from Austria to treat a rich heiress who had the same type of rare disease that her own daughter had.


Dr. Lorenz was the only physician in the world, at that time, who could perform the necessary surgery needed to help her daughter. He had come to her very door, but she had slammed the door shut in his face. Now he was gone.


In today’s gospel, Jesus is passing by when he noticed Zacchaeus up in a tree. At the end of their conversation, Zacchaeus shared his belongings, his rights and his wrongs, and invites Jesus to have dinner with him. He does not slam the door. Jesus says: “Today salvation has come to this house….the Son of Man has come to search out and save what was lost…”


Jesus not only saw Zacchaeus, but he called him by name. Jesus knows each of us by name. He knows us personally. He knows all of our good qualities and he knows our sins.


A great Jewish scholar, Claude Montefiore, set out to find what was it about Jesus’ teaching that set him apart from all the other preachers of the Jewish religion. He found it in the teaching of Jesus that God, like the good shepherd, goes out to seek the lost sheep. Other religions picture people in search of God, while Christianity teaches a God who is in search of us.

Jesus went to stay at Zacchaeus’ house. However it had to be a certain kind of house that can receive Jesus as a guest. Some things and some persons cannot live in his presence, so one has to choose between Him and them. Like Zacchaeus we will never see Jesus if we remain on the level we are on. There are just too many people and things standing in our way.

So we must climb higher. There are many trees we can climb to help us see Jesus: trees of prayer, trees of the Bible, liturgy, repentance, restitution, and service. From these trees not only will we see Jesus, but he will recognize us.


Sunday Readings

Wisdom 11:22—12:2 

For you love all things that are / and loathe nothing that you have made; / for you would not fashion what you hate.


2 Thessalonians 1:11—2:2 

We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling.


Luke 19:1–10 

[Jesus said to Zacchaeus,] “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”