When I was young, I used to love to climb trees. Climbing up a tree gets you off the ground and gives you a whole new perspective on things. And when you are 9 years old, you are always looking up at everybody so climbing a tree lets you see over everyone else for a change. Well, one time I was hanging out with my friend and it was getting dark and so we thought it would be cool to climb a tree so that we could see the lights in different parts of town. Now the tallest tree in the neighborhood was in someone else’s yard so we had to sneak on their property and quickly climb up. When we got to the top, we felt like kings because we could see a long way off. It was dark, there was a cool breeze and you could feel the tree swaying a little bit. Well it was totally cool, until the owner of the house came out and yelled at us to get out of their tree. We froze in place, didn’t move and hoped she didn’t see us way up that tree. She finally gave up and went inside, so we scurried down and ran home.
Something like that happened in the Gospel today. We heard about Zacchaeus, who was also looking to gain a different vantage point, climb a tree so that he could see over the people to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was passing by. But Jesus doesn’t pass by, in fact he comes right up to the tree and tells Zacchaeus to come down so that Jesus can stay at his house. Unlike me and my friend, Zacchaeus came right down and received Jesus, the Gospel says, with great joy.
Jesus sought out Zacchaeus, a tax collector, because he recognized that he was a sinful man who needed to be saved. Tax collectors were hated because they often cheated and extorted people for their own gain and they were resented because they worked for the Romans. Upon receiving Jesus into his home though, Zacchaeus was a changed man. As we heard, he promised that he would give half of what he owned to the poor and return any extorted money four times over to those people he cheated.
Jesus makes a house call, a life is touched, and a life is changed.
As we all sit here today, we know that Jesus has already found us, we don’t need to climb a tree to see him. That’s why we are here, we have that relationship with him, and we have already invited him into our homes and lives. But maybe this story is inviting us also to a new perspective, one centered not on our own homes, but those of others.
In the Gospel, Jesus says the Son of man has come to seek and to save what was lost. So, who today does the seeking for Jesus? Who finds those homes that want to welcome him? And who out there seeks the invitation to welcome Jesus but may not know how?
There are many in our community who are stuck at home and have difficulty getting out. They have food delivered, they have packages delivered, family visits, but is Jesus delivered? Maybe these people were once avid churchgoers, but now they cannot be with us here for a variety of reasons. Others may be in a hospital bed awaiting surgery or a diagnosis; who delivers Jesus to them? Maybe others are approaching the end of their lives and they feel unworthy of God or are lonely and in fear. Who delivers Jesus to them?
Well, maybe we can! If you know someone like this, maybe a friend, neighbor or family member, who is confined to their home or in the hospital, the Pastoral Visitation Ministry in both of our Churches wants to help. This ministry is made up of parishioners who will visit, bring fellowship, pray with the person, and most importantly, will bring the Eucharist. These can be onetime visits or ongoing. If there is a need for the Sacrament of Healing or the Sacrament of Reconciliation, one of the priests will visit. Think of this as our house call, if they cannot come to Church, we will bring Church to them.
We just need to open that door to have Jesus delivered. We all know that there are plenty of people in our community who could benefit from a Catholic visitor, but it only happens when we have our antennae up for people who are alone and are candidates for a loving visit. Can you do that? Do you know someone who would benefit from a visit? Ask them and share their name with any of the deacons or priests, or staff in the office and this ministry will kick into action. [Editor’s Note: Please feel free to contact the pastor or staff in your parish to find out if a visit can be arranged for yourself or someone you know.]
We can make a difference in someone’s life! We seek for him, we can deliver Jesus: he still makes house calls.