Trying to See God

Trying to See God

November 3, 2019 | N W | Comfort, Deacon Eddie, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope, Light, Love, Obedience, Repentance, Trust

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 3, 2019—Year C
Readings: Wis 11:22-12:2 / Ps 145 / 2 Thes 1:11-2:2 / Lk 19:1-10
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

There are some questions there’s only one answer to….

… Like, when your wife asks, “How does my hair look?” There’s only one answer to that.

… When your kid comes up and says, “I drew this picture for you, Daddy. Will you put it up in your office?” There’s only one answer to that question.

That’s just the way things work out sometimes, and there are some good examples of that in our gospel today. I love this gospel. It’s one I always remember from my childhood. I associate it with the song we learned in Sunday School:

Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see

If this were a Baptist church, there would be a roaring chorus! These little songs stick in your childhood mind, but sometimes they color my adult perception of the gospels, and I have to consciously step back from these gospels, look at them objectively, try to filter out my childhood images, and actually read what it says there. If you do that with this gospel, there are some wonderful lessons to be learned.

The first lesson is that God works the way God wants to work. If you read the gospel carefully, it says Jesus was going to pass through Jericho. Meaning, He was going from here to there, Jericho was in the middle, and He was going to go through it. But He changed His mind. He decided to stay because of one person. That’s the way God works. We are a creation of God, and everything that God created is good. It says so in Genesis. God wants nothing more than to be in communion with us. He will go out of his way to make Himself available.

You see a lot of writings about “finding God” in this and in that. Those are some wonderful resources, but the wording is not exactly right because it should be “learning to see God in all things.” That is, you don’t have to find Him in things – He’s there. You don’t have to look for Him – He’s there. No matter where we are; no matter what we’re doing; whether we’re doing what we’re supposed or we’re not, God is there. We have to remember that, because God wants nothing more than for us to come home.

Remember the story of the Prodigal Son. The prodigal son did some bad things, but his father was ready to receive him back home. And it’s the same way with God. There’s not a minimum level; there’s not a minimum entrance exam before we return to God. When we walk away, no matter where we have been, no matter what we have done, we can come back. We don’t have to work ourselves up to it. All we have to do is see God and ask to come home.

That’s a wonderful thing. I think there are so many people in this world who feel that they’re not good enough to be loved by God. But God doesn’t agree with that, no matter what we think. In the story, Zacchaeus is a tax collector. When you see “tax collector” in the gospels, that equals “bad dude.” Instead of saying, “Jesus met a tax collector,” you could substitute, “Jesus met a bad guy.”

The next thing you’ll notice in this gospel is that the door is open to us, and it’s up to us whether we walk through. Because God loves us, God created us with free will, and we are free to turn toward Him or turn away. He will not stop us either way.

In my little pre-school brain when I heard this story, I thought, “Oh yea! Zacchaeus came back!” But we don’t know that. We really don’t know whether the change that we’re told about was permanent. Maybe it was temporary. Maybe once Jesus left town Zacchaeus fell back to his old ways. But if he did, he was always free to come back.

It’s the same way with us. We have free will. We are free to accept the love that God is handing out to us, or we’re free to turn away from it. And every day it’s up to us which decision we make. It’s up to us, whether we’re going to just hide up in a tree; whether we’re going to just say “no” and continue to sit in the back. Or whether we’re going to respond positively; whether we’re going to allow ourselves to be changed by turning toward God.