Friday, November 1, 2013

For Jesus, there are no lost causes

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 3, 2013

Luke 19:1-10

Jesus frequently warns of the risk of getting caught by the irresistible lure of money. The insatiable desire for material well-being can ruin a person's life. You don't need to be very rich. Those who are slaves to money end up locked in themselves. Other people don't count. According to Jesus, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be."

This view of the dehumanizing danger of money is not a resource of the indignant Prophet of Galilee. Different studies have analyzed the power of money as a force linked to profound impulses of self-protection, search for security, and fear of the end of our existence.

However, for Jesus, the attraction of money is not some sort of incurable disease. It is possible to free oneself from its slavery and begin a healthier life. The rich man is not a "lost cause". Luke's story of Jesus' encounter with a rich man in Jericho is very enlightening.

While passing through the city, Jesus comes upon a curious scene. A man short in stature has climbed a fig tree to be able to see him up close. He's not unknown. He's a rich, powerful "chief tax collector." For the people of Jericho, a despicable being, a corrupt and unscrupulous tax collector like almost all of them. For the religious sectors, "a sinner" with no possible conversion, excluded from any salvation.

Nonetheless, Jesus makes him a surprising proposal: "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house." Jesus wants to be taken into the home of a sinner, into the world of money and power of this man who is despised by everybody. Zacchaeus came down at once and received him joyfully. He's not afraid to let the Defender of the poor come into his life.

Luke doesn't explain what happened in that house. He only says that the contact with Jesus radically transforms the rich man Zacchaeus. His commitment is firm. Henceforth, he will think of the poor. He will share his goods with them. He will also remember the victims he has abused. He will give them back more than what was stolen. Jesus has introduced justice and loving solidarity into his life.

The tale concludes with some wonderful words of Jesus: "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost." The rich can be converted too. With Jesus, everything is possible. None of us are to forget it. He has come to find and save what we might be messing up. For Jesus there are no lost causes.

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