Reflections this week for Ordinary Time 31 C. Jesus reaches Jericho. Luke writes that Jesus “intended to pass through” gives a sense of urgency to the narrative as Jesus travels to Jerusalem. From Jericho up to Jerusalem is the last leg of the journey.

The encounter with Zacchaeus interrupts Jesus’ progress. The incident, as Luke tells it, has the quality of humor. Zacchaeus was big in stature in the sense of his prominence and wealth in the Jericho area, but in sharp contrast he was short physically. This would arguably have amused the ancient listeners.

Without any introduction, Jesus already knows the little man’s name, which surprises Zacchaeus. Jesus changes his itinerary immediately; he “must stay” at Zacchaeus’ house that very day. We are not told about the supper or overnight (?) at all. We are only given a final parable of the ten coins, told before going to Zachaeus’ home. Then after that we’re suddenly at the gates Jerusalem for the Palm Sunday narrative in Luke 19.

For Luke, one wonders if the Zacchaeus incident merely the set up for the final parable of the journey, again one that regards economic justice. Money will be a continuing theme in Luke during Jesus’ brief teachings in the Tempe precinct. Coming up are the parables of the widow’s mite, the tax to the emperor, the ousting of the moneychangers, and the betrayal of Jesus for silver coins by Judas.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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