The elephant in our Gospel room today is what happened just before this Gospel, in the 18th chapter of Luke. In a story you probably know, an official asked Jesus about what he needed to do for salvation. The man said he kept the law from his youth, but when he was asked by Jesus to give his possessions to the poor and follow Jesus, the man went away sad.
With that in mind, today’s Gospel ends with Jesus saying that salvation has come to Zaccheus’ house. What’s the difference? Even before he meets Jesus, Zaccheus is going above and beyond: running ahead, climbing the tree, coming down quickly, receiving Jesus with joy. He pledged half his possessions and to repay people 4x for taking advantage of them.
Going beyond the minimal requirements. Going beyond is where the action is, where the transformation happens. And when we go beyond, salvation comes to our house, too, as it came to Zaccheus.
When we are living our faith with stinginess, just doing the minimal, being defensive, we’re really not living it at all.
In 1914, in his inaugural address as South Africa’s president, Nelson Mandela said, “It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”
As a parishioner in our Lectio Divina session observed this week, “We are all small in stature and Jesus is passing through all of us.” Amen. A great comment. So how can we live more out of our God-given radiance than simply be content with doing the minimum, in our prayer, in our use of resources, in our love of neighbor? Even if we can’t run or climb trees anymore, how can we go beyond in whatever efforts we can make?