Transformation and Divine Dinner Crashers
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”
I love Zacchaeus. I love his eagerness to get a good view of that celebrity prophet strolling through Jericho. I love his startled yet open heart when Jesus announces that he’s inviting himself over. And I love that although he’s someone on the margins, he’s the one in whom Jesus is most interested.
The sinner. The guy who is so unselfconscious about appearances that he’s game to scramble up a tree. The one the neighbors resent. The one who isn’t a good Jew, but in fact an agent of the empire’s fiscal oppression.
He’s the one who gets holy communion?!? I mean, a home visit with Jesus?
This week, the quadrennial “wafer wars” got underway. A Roman Catholic priest decided that Joe Biden, who was spotted just before mass at the top of one of those fantastic North Carolina pine trees with his plaid boxers showing, was too sinful for the eucharist. Writing about the event in the National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters noted: “Nothing so exemplifies the culture warrior approach as the denial of the Eucharist to pro-choice politicians, and that approach has failed as an ecclesial proposition. If the goal was to turn the Catholic Church into an arm of the Republican Party and to cause left-leaning Catholics to find something else to do on a Sunday morning, the approach has succeeded.” My theological and pastoral reaction to his assessment? Yup.
Pope Francis, aka the Bishop of Rome (an office that Ecumenical Catholics hold in deep respect and reverence), noted that the eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” If you’re curious about Winter’s very good representation of Roman Catholic Canon Law on the matter (which points to the fact that Joe Biden’s rights as a fully initiated Catholic were violated), click here.
Watching the litmus testing start up again, I can’t help but think of the relationship Jesus had with sinners. So many stories. Which of us gets to throw the first stone? Which of us has the centurion’s humility and need for forgiveness? Which of us, like Zaccheus, would be Jesus’s first choice dining companion? The illustration, above, made me smile. Zacchaeus is in the tree. But so are a lot of other folks!
One of the things I love about the ECC is our welcoming table. We’ll lean on the unreasonable love of God. We have no truck with condemning people who are divorced. Using contraception. Loving someone of he same gender. We’ll just bless the bread and cup, break and pass. In Ecumenical Catholicsm, the doors to the sacraments are wide open. Notes the woman who is ordained a priest.
So, this week is round two of that fabulous invitation: Any sinners out there who get this email are heartily welcome to join us at Mass this Sunday. Prayer will be led by a sinner. Music provided by sinners. Fellowship with happy sinners. St. Ambrose said, “If, whenever Christ’s blood is shed, it is shed for the forgiveness of sins, I who sin often, should receive it often: I need a frequent remedy.” Well, that would be me and I’m thinking my friend Zacchaeus. Maybe you, too. Mass is at 11 a.m. at 7117 Washington Ave. South.
In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
cháris Χάρις khar’ece
Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.
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