It’s almost the end of the presidential campaign. Lots of folks are angry. Many hate the opposition and their supporters. How sad! How tragic! How do we bridge this growing divide? Let’s see if we might learn something from Jesus.
In today's gospel, Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home. The latter wanted to know him. Jesus wanted to love him.
Let's engage in a bit of fantasy to help us understand Jesus' actions. The setting is late that same evening after Jesus had gone to dinner at the house of Zacchaeus. Jesus' public relations director is waiting for him, and he says something like this:
Now Jesus, I've had it up to here. We've got a mess out there, and I don't know if I can put the right spin on this one. Everyone is livid - rich people, poor people, middle-class people ...they're all mad.
I've told you a hundred times how to work the crowd when you come to a town. You kiss the babies. You shake hands with the local politicians. You smile at the religious leaders. You cure a couple of sick people. You go to some poor person's home and try to get your picture taken there.
I laid all this out for you before you got here to Jericho. I even had a list of names for you. I get all these people to turn out and what do you do? You pick out that little shyster up a tree! Of all the doggone people to single out...
Everybody's ticked off. It's going to take some doing to get you out of this one. We're still not out of that ruckus you caused when you went to the fancy banquet and let that floozy dry your feet with her hair. You lost a lot of points for that one...a lot of points!
And while I'm at it, it's getting harder and harder to maintain your image because of that group of losers you've got for disciples. They're always squabbling among themselves; they don't make you look like the smartest person on earth.
I don't know what to do. I don't understand. For the life of me, I don't understand.
What would Jesus say? I think he'd say, I liked Zacchaeus. Did you see how he went out on a limb for me?
That's what he'd say. He would. He'd say the same about the sinful woman at the banquet. He'd say the same about the Samaritan woman at the well.
It wasn't as though Jesus would be apologetic and say something like, Well, we have to try to be kind to everyone. No. He liked Zacchaeus. He loved him. He truly loves each of us. Loves us.
Imagine if Jesus were to come to town and visit one home...your home...perhaps like a surprise visit by a presidential candidate, knocking on your door. But Jesus wouldn't do that for show, or to get votes. He'd do it because he loves you.
And if anyone complained about his choice, he'd defend you. He'd say, She's my sister...he's my brother. I love them.
The love of Jesus for us is not a generic love. It's personal, individual. We're the ones he came for. Each of us. All of us. That's why God took on our flesh...to campaign for our love.
When we catch that message and that love, really catch it, then everything is different. We feel different about ourselves. We feel different about one another...even those who don't agree with us.