Voices ever ancient, ever new. Sunday-Week31-2013.

“So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.” (Luke 19:4)

Saint Augustine of Hippo comments on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“Zacchaeus climbed away from the crowd and saw Jesus without the crowd getting in his way. The crowd laughs at the lowly, to people walking the way of humility, who leave the wrongs they suffer in God’s hands and do not insist on getting back at their enemies. The crowd laughs at the lowly and says, “You helpless, miserable clod, you cannot even stick up for yourself and get back what is your own.” The crowd gets in the way and prevents Jesus from being seen. The crowd boasts and crows when it is able to get back what it owns. It blocks the sight of the one who said as he hung on the cross, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” ... He ignored the crowd that was getting in his way. He instead climbed a sycamore tree, a tree of “silly fruit.” As the apostle says, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block indeed to the Jews, [now notice the sycamore] but folly to the Gentiles.” Finally, the wise people of this world laugh at us about the cross of Christ and say, “What sort of minds do you people have, who worship a crucified God?” What sort of minds do we have? They are certainly not your kind of mind. “The wisdom of this world is folly with God.” No, we do not have your kind of mind. You call our minds foolish. Say what you like, but for our part, let us climb the sycamore tree and see Jesus. The reason you cannot see Jesus is that you are ashamed to climb the sycamore tree. Let Zacchaeus grasp the sycamore tree, and let the humble person climb the cross. That is little enough, merely to climb it. We must not be ashamed of the cross of Christ, but we must fix it on our foreheads, where the seat of shame is. Above where all our blushes show is the place we must firmly fix that for which we should never blush. As for you, I rather think you make fun of the sycamore, and yet that is what has enabled me to see Jesus. You make fun of the sycamore, because you are just a person, but “the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” (Sermon 174, 25)

Almighty and merciful God,
by whose gift Your faithful offer
You right and praiseworthy service,
grant, we pray, that we may hasten
without stumbling to receive
the things you have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!