Salvation has come to this house

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What is lost? How often do we search frantically for something we misplaced, only to find it where we left it, or after hours of searching, find out that someone else had taken it? One thing is for sure, we do not give up until we actually find it. 

Jesus tells us that He “has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Yet, when we think of ourselves or others we know, we may not consider ourselves lost. Take Zacchaeus, for instance, he probably was fairly well-off (albeit at a great expense to others), lacked for very little, held a position of stature, and would definitely not consider himself to be one of the “lost.” 

However, Zacchaeus “finds” himself in Jesus’ presence — literally and figuratively. Through the simple gesture of inviting himself to Zacchaeus’ home, Jesus helps Zacchaeus realize just how lost he truly was. He quickly understands the wrongs he has affected against his fellow man and immediately atones for his injustices.  

We, unfortunately, were not guests in Zacchaeus’ home and were not privy to whatever conversation Jesus may have had with His host, but one thing we know for certain there was a change. A change that made a very big impact on those who had been subjected to Zacchaeus’ abuse of power, extorted, and in some instances, left impoverished. 

One view we may not have considered, is simply that until Jesus appeared in his life, Zacchaeus was merely an outcast, an unwelcomed person in the community and definitely not welcome in anyone’s home. He would be the last person you would invite for dinner or would want to receive an invitation from. These individuals were hated by their fellow man. But enter Jesus, and suddenly he is noticed and someone sees him — truly sees him. Jesus sees the man, not the tax collector, who has gone out of his way to get a glimpse of Him. Jesus not only wants to visit with him in his home, but wants to join him for a meal. 

The gesture of wanting to dine with Zacchaeus is truly a very humbling one. This attention helped him realize just how lonely his life was, what was missing, and how much he truly needed his fellow man. For the first time in his life, someone wanted to be with him, come to his home, and truly spend time with him. For the people of his time, sharing a meal was both a great honor and clearly a sign of great respect and reverence for the host — it meant you and your host were friends. It was this simple gesture that helped redirect his steps and bring him back from the land of the lost. 

But you may be thinking — I have friends, we get together, have dinner, I am not an outcast, people want me around. True, we may lead quiet lives, do our jobs, provide for our families, and our actions do not negatively impact others. But have we looked around us, are there individuals who are not so fortunate? Are there people we know who are all alone, who have no one to call on? When was the last time you reached out to the lonely widow or widower down the street, or had a conversation with that co-worker who sits off by themselves at lunch?

Jesus recognized the need Zacchaeus had. He did not offer him forgiveness, He did not call him out on his actions, and He simply gave him the one thing he longed for — to be seen. Zacchaeus had been chastised his whole adult life for the career he had chosen, for being akin to a modern day loan shark, he was a “sinner” who used his power to abuse others. That is, of course, until he is “found.” We all want to be “found,” we want others to look beyond our faults, to truly see us. 

In keeping with Jesus’ mission of finding the lost and offering them Salvation, we are all commissioned, as disciples and followers of Christ, to do the same. We are, after all, His hands and feet, His ambassadors opening the doors and showing the way to others. We are entrusted with the task of not only finding our way, but insuring that those who are lost also find their way as well. We may have to go where others find questionable, we may have to sit among sinners, and we may have to ignore the fault of others — realizing that we have our own share of faults and shortcomings (none of us is perfect — that role is already accounted for with Jesus). We may have to hear the backlash from others about who we choose to associate with, and a multitude of other uncomfortable feelings that may arise as we step out of our “comfort zone” and into the lives of those deemed less desirable. 

Who knows, we too may be able to make a difference to a modern day Zacchaeus, or better yet, make a difference to ourselves and how we view others and the world around us. If we can learn to recognize the person, truly see them, to see them as if we are looking through the eyes of Christ, we may too find ourselves and realize that we were also lost. 

So let us all climb that tree and make an effort to catch a glimpse of Jesus in everyone we encounter. We will never know the difference it can make until we put ourselves out there. Are you willing to be the host? Will you help others find their way? In doing so, we may hear Jesus saying to us,  “Today Salvation has come to this house.” 

God Bless!

Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Fall River and works for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. 

Email her at rsaraiva@dfrcs.com



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