Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sunday Sermon - Jesus sees the inherent worth and dignity in very person.

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Have you noticed that Jesus is a Universalist? He includes everyone in his ministry even people who are stigmatized and despised by their society. Jesus acts in such a way that He demonstrates His recognition and acknowledgement of the inherent worth and dignity of every person, the first principle of the Unitarian Universalist covenant.
Jesus not only sees Zacchaeus up in the tree, He calls him down to him and then invites himself to stay with him at his house.
Is this presumptuous on Jesus' part? Zacchaeus seems overjoyed for some reason. When is the last time that the Spirit of the Lord has spoken to you? God is speaking to us all the time, but we don't hear Him. God whispers and we don't hear if we don't tune in on the same frequency. It seems that Zacchaeus was tuned in and there was a connection as Jesus passed under the tree.
Zacchaeus not only responds to Jesus' invitation but he joins the ministry and decides that he will share what he has with others. Zacchaeus implements the Unitarian Univeralist second principle of affirming and promoting justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
How do you suppose the evening went between Zacchaeus and Jesus when they went back to Zacchaeus' house? I would guess they shared a meal and conversation and together, Jesus and Zacchaeus would have engaged in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning enacting the fourth principle of Unitarian Univeralism.
What is delightful about this story is not only that Zacchaeus expressed an intention to share his wealth and rectify any injustice he might have done, but that he and Jesus had a meeting of the minds and engaged in an acceptance of one another which involved an encouragement to spiritual growth which is the third principle of Unitarian Univeralism.
The story of Jesus and Zacchaeus is a simple story but one by which we have been blessed for almost 2.000 years.
As a Roman Catholic Unitarian Universalist I enjoy integrating the stories of the ministry of Jesus as told in the New Testament with our Unitarian Universalist's covenantal principles.
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