|"I will spew you out of my mouth..."|
The dead, the lukewarm and the hated
In the Book of the Apocalypse we heard of those of Sardis (3:1-6) who claimed to be Christian but did not live according to the teachings of Christ. “You have the name of being alive, and you are dead.” Christ exhorted these Christians-by-name-only to repentance; and Christ also warned them – He would come to judge them unexpectedly.
In Laodicea there was a different problem among Christians (3:14-22): their relative affluence, and sense of self-sufficiency and comfort from their relative wealth, had made them “lukewarm” or indifferent towards the faith. Christ warns them that in fact they are far from being rich and comfortable, at least in terms of the kingdom – the truth is, He says, is that they are pitiable, wretched, poor, blind, and naked. They needed to face up to the truth!
The Truth visited Zacchaeus in person. The account of Zacchaeus in the gospel is a real-life example of what Jesus taught about repentance and conversion. In repentance we essentially turn away from our sin with resolve to change, and conversion is about actually changing our lives.
Like most tax-collectors of his day, Zacchaeus was basically hated by most Jews for cheating them and for collaborating with the occupying armies of the Roman Empire. Yet when Christ sought Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus responded. What is crucial here is the response of Zacchaeus to Christ, not the magnitude or gravity of his sins. Zacchaeus responded to Christ with a repentant spirit and a desire for conversion.
Zacchaeus pledge himself to several life changing things: to detach himself from his wealth, to compensate those he had cheated, and thus providing reparation for the injustice he had committed and satisfaction for his sins. And through these actions he welcomed the love of Christ and, not only that, but desired to respond to Christ in still greater ways. His repentance was complete. He was restored to the grace of God.This movement of the heart in repentance resulting in conversion is the fundamental change we all need. Let us approach Christ in this Eucharist as Zacchaeus approached Christ; let us do so in repentance seeking the grace for the true conversion of our lives. Let us not be Christians-by-name-only; and let us not be found by Christ to be lukewarm!
Apocalypse 3:1-6,14-22 ; Luke 19:1-10