Feast of St. Zacchaeus (August 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Zacchaeus in the Tree, by William Hole

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT ZACCHAEUS

Penitent Tax Collector and Roman Collaborator

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Height was not his only shortcoming.

–J. Neil Alexander, Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, on Zacchaeus, at Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, a Few Years Ago

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Gospel of Luke, half of Luke-Acts, is a well-organized theological work.  One theme in it is the reversal fortune, as in the Beatitudes and Woes (6:20-26), as well as other passages.  Given the structure of the text, the story of Jesus and St. Zacchaeus (19:1-10) stands in continuity with previous passages, including 18:9-27.  I encourage you, O reader, to reread these passages carefully before reading what I have written in the following paragraphs, for I cannot tell the story better than Luke 19:1-10 does.

The narrative from Luke 19 is quite interesting.  It is an account of a literal tax thief–a man who had purchased the contract to collect taxes from his fellow Jews to finance the Roman occupation, as well as his lavish lifestyle.  Luke 19:1-10 is the story of a man who, having exploited his neighbors, had become prosperous, but recognized his spiritual emptiness and sought a way out of that life.  This is an account of Jesus, who wanted to help him escape to a life that did not entail exploiting people.  This is the story of a man who volunteered to give half his wealth to help the poor (contrast this with the man in Luke 18:18-23) and to pay a restitution rate of 400% when the Biblically mandated rate for restitution for fraud was 120% (Leviticus 6:5).  (400% was the rate of restitution for sheep or a sheep.)

Some dubious traditions regarding St. Zacchaeus exist.  According to one, he became the Bishop of Caesarea.  On the really sketchy end of the spectrum is the story that he married St. Veronica, traveled to Gaul, and became a hermit also known as St. Amator/Amadour, buried at Rocamadour.

I, as a student of the Bible, sometimes wonder what happened next after reading a story.  The narrative continues by following a different character or set of characters, and never again mentions the character or characters really interesting to me.  St. Zacchaeus is one of these characters.  The narrative in Luke moves along into the pivotal events of Holy Week.  I still wonder about the subsequent life of St. Zacchaeus, though.  It suffices that St. Zacchaeus and his community were never the same after that crucial day.  It is enough that shalom came to town.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Loving God, who rejoices when sinners repent,

we thank you for the good example of your servant Saint Zacchaeus,

who, in turning his back to his sins, found peace with you, his neighbors, and himself.

May we, by grace, erect no barriers between ourselves and you,

erect none between others and you,

and rejoice when you establish shalom.

May we, by grace, be agents of shalom.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Leviticus 6:1-7 (Protestant versification)/5:20-26 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versification)

Psalm 15

Philippians 2:1-11

Luke 19:1-10

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: