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03rd November 2019 – Sunday 31C (COCU 64C)

OUTSIDE IN
(Luke 19:1-10)
Zacchaeus promised
recompense to all he’d wronged,
so the story goes.

The Greek reads, “I give”,
words giving plain expression
to present practice.*

Jesus affirmed him:
He’s a son of Abraham –
he is one of us.

Ponder a moment
just how many insiders
we make outsiders.
        Jeff Shrowder, 2019
 
*Reading a commentary by one of my past mentors, I want to share his comment on this incident:
Zacchaeus, as we might expect, welcomes Jesus joyfully (v. 6). But “they” all begin to murmur: “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner” (v. 7). The negative reaction from the nameless “they” signals, as so often in Luke, the presence of a third party in need of conversion.

In contrast to the similar situation in the house of Simon the Pharisee (7:36-50), Jesus does not on this occasion tell a parable. Zacchaeus. Emboldened by the presence of his guest, mounts his own defenSe: “Look, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor and, if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold” (v. 8). Most translations (the NRSV among them) put this double declaration in the future tense (“I will give”). This implies that Zacchaeus has undergone a conversion and is declaring an intention to abandon his controversial trade and the exploitation it involves. But in the original text the Greek verb is quite clearly and unambiguously in the present tense. Zacchaeus does not say “I will give,” but “I give…” There is no real evidence that he has undergone a conversion. Maybe he is not such a bad tax collector after all!
(Byrne, Brendan, The Hospitality of God. St Pauls: Collegeville, 2000)

More for Sunday 31C…