FROM A READING FOR OCT. 30, 31ST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
'Zacchaeus said, "Half of my posessions, Lord, I will give to the poor"....Then Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house....For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost..."' - Luke 19:1-10


On one hand, our sacred authors presume their readers are committed to seeing things other people overlook. On the other hand, if readers actually did see those things, there'd be no need for our authors to write.

It's precisely because people of God don't always live up to their commitments that we have our Scriptures. In some sense, our biblical authors are in the "reminding" business, making certain we don't forget the essentials of our faith.

Sunday's Wisdom (11:22-12:2) author has no problem assuming this role. Though the writer seems to be one of the first sacred authors to believe in an afterlife, that writer also deals with the problem of evil in the world right here and now -- especially when evil is personified in certain individuals.

The author's first principle is that God created the world in which we live, a world in which evil is always mixed with good. That's why God constantly shows mercy to the creation that God brought into existence.

Evil vs. God
More importantly, God's "imperishable spirit is in all things!" No matter if there's evil in us; God's undying spirit is also in us, a spirit which will continue to exist beyond our earthly existence.

Long before we meet God face to face, people of faith are committed to noticing God right here and now in all God's creation. If we acknowledge that presence, we always have an opportunity to "abandon" the evil which at times permeates us.

The disciple of Paul responsible for writing II Thessalonians (1:11-2:2) zeroes in on that same commitment. Yet he goes beyond just recognizing God's spirit in creation. He also recognizes the risen Jesus in those around him. His goal is to make certain "that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him."

Distracted people
Yet, we live in a world with a lot of distractions impeding us from surfacing the risen Jesus in our daily lives. This particular writer especially has to deal with the community's preoccupation with Jesus' Parousia. Many are so anxious for His second coming that they fail to notice how, in His risen presence, He's already come into the lives of each of them.

Of course, the greatest obstacle always revolves around the actual people in whom God and the risen Jesus is present. Luke deals with this problem in Sunday's Gospel (Luke 19:1-10).

Tax collectors were probably the most despised, evil people in Jesus' lifetime. Though it's not hard to commit ourselves to experiencing God's presence in all people in the abstract, it's another thing to pick out one specific individual and surface God in him or her -- especially if that person is a thief and a traitor to your country. Zacchaeus perfectly fits that category.

Jericho is the last stop before Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, the last stop on a journey that began more than 10 chapters ago. All along the Jerusalem road, Luke has been emphasizing Jesus' teachings and personality for those who are on the same road to dying and rising with Him. After all those miles, can we find God in someone like Zacchaeus?

Perhaps Luke is telling us that the best way to surface God in others is to help them surface God in themselves --especially by showing our honest concern for them, no matter what other people think or say. If we think the "lost" are going to be saved by God without our participation, then we're refusing to notice God's presence in ourselves.