There is Hope for living as we turn to the scriptures this week. In times of great struggle and challenge we can encounter a glimmer of hope and possibility through a personal encounter with Christ. Too often our focus centers on the despair and struggle of living we loose sight of the hope that God offers to us. I need not again remind you of all that we face day in and day out as a church, a nation and the global community. But when we allow God to look at us, to gaze upon us God’s loving presence brings us to a new place and opportunity for living anew.
From the book of Wisdom we find that hope proclaimed to us. She speaks to us and she reminds us of God’s great mercy and love for us. There is nothing that God can’t do and He has the ability and desire for us to live transformed lives that see Him and respond to His loving presence.
you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.
For you love all things that are.. Wisdom-11:23
We find a tax collector in Jesus’ teaching. One of the most despised sinners in ancient Israel. The cooperation and collaboration with the occupying Roman regime cause hatred and disdain. To make matters worse they were thieves who extracted more than what the Romans wanted because they took money for themselves.
Here is given a name Zacchaeus and he is described as being short in stature. He had heard about Jesus. Probably the great power of healing, or possibly Jesus’ oratory skills but he knew he had to see him for himself. In his determination to see Jesus he runs ahead and climes a tree to get a bird’s eye view. This desire and tenacity to see Jesus transforms his life. In the midst of this something is happening the encounter with Christ brings about a conversation a reconciliation. They are eye to eye as Jesus looks up and gazes upon Zacchaeus a meeting of the eyes, the cilia, they are eyelash to eyelash thus the reconciliation and forgiveness is given through salvation arriving in his house. Not nearly his home as a building of brick and stone, but more importantly the home of Zacchaeus’ heart. Christ enters in. The salvation the Jesus offers hims restores not only his life but the brokenness he brought in the community. His giving restitution through alms giving and restorative practices of a fourfold return on what was stolen. Now he is reunited both with God and the community.
This is restorative Justice, making right the wrong that had been committed, not excusing it, not passing the blame, not making others culpable for the unjust practice of defrauding, but rather accepting responsibility and seeking reconciliation. When we see the spiritual healing that transform not only Zacchaeus but the entire community is restored. Jesus’ gazing up at Zacchaeus and entering his life had the power restore the brokenness in the community.
The proclamation of salvation for us has the ability to bring about reconciliation and restoration when we both seek Christ and allow Him to gaze upon us. Christ sees our limitations, the wrongs we’ve committed and the injustice that proliferates outward, yet he always sees the potential for our conversion, turning around and away from a destructive path to one that brings healing and restores life.