Pulpit Reflections

Pulpit Reflections By Father Donald Imming Remember the story of Zaccheus in St. Luke's Gospel (Luke 19:1-10). Zaccheus was that short, little man who had ammassed quite a bit of money as a tax collector and as a class of people they were regarded, probably correctly, as corrupt. He wanted to see Jesus. So he climbed a sycamore tree so he could do just that.

Jesus saw him in the tree and recognizing him said, "Zaccheus, I would like to stay at your house today." Overwhelmed by the privilege of such a guest, Zaccheus climbs down the tree. But he senses the indignation of the crowd. Why would a good Jew like Jesus violate the law of Moses as understood by the Pharisees and eat with such a sinner?

Zaccheus declares he is giving half of his property to the poor, and reimbursing anyone he might have defrauded many times over. Jesus comments, "The Son of Man has come to save what was lost."

This doesn't sound like an Advent story, but it is. Advent is a deeply spiritual season preceding the Christmas season. Sadly there is little left of Christmas in our culture which can truly be said to be spiritual. And I don't need to belabor that point. We all know it. What passes as spiritual is little more than sentimentality.

During Advent, Christ would like us, his followers, to invite him to come into our hearts and minds � our soul. He doesn't so much ask us to come to him, as he makes it known that he should like to come to us.

An invite to his house would be a great privilege, even better than being invited to the White House. But he goes even further and invites himself to come to our house. One thinks of the words of the Roman sergeant (centurion) who said to Jesus, "I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Only say the word and my boy shall get better." (Matt. 8:8)

Those words have been adapted before communion in the Mass. We say, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed."

Why would he want to do such a thing? Love is like that, and no love exceeds God's love. He isn't content with waiting for us to come to him. Instead he comes to us.

Would that we had the good sense of Zaccheus! As soon as he hears Jesus' invitation, he doesn't rush home to make sure the house is clean and the best silver is put out. Immediately instead he begins what the occasion calls for, a spiritual preparation.

He initiates a process of repentance. He realizes that it is high time not just for a dramatic gesture, but for some longer term changes. And for him these had to be drastic.

Religious practice is despised by some a religiosity. But it shouldn't be. Religiosity is insincere religious practice. Religiosity is religion without a soul. A return to religious practice opens the door to a vast spiritual world, if sincere.

Not only is it not the equivalent of a one night stand since it is ongoing. Rather it carries with it a rich tradition of spirituality centuries old. the return is the equivalent of opening the door and letting Christ walk in.

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