Who is seeking whom in Sunday’s Gospel?

in the beginning
Father Mike Stubbs is the pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park and has a degree in Scripture from Harvard University.

by Father Mike Stubbs

Who is doing the seeking? Is it Zacchaeus, or is it Jesus?

Sunday’s Gospel reading, Lk 19:1-10, tells us that Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree, because he is short and “was seeking to see who Jesus was.”

On the other hand, when Jesus finally meets Zacchaeus, he tells Zacchaeus, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Who has taken the initiative? On the face of it, Zacchaeus has made an effort to see Jesus. He did the physical work of climbing the tree.

But seen from another perspective, God has taken the initiative. God took on human flesh by being born as Jesus and came to earth to bring salvation to the human race. Jesus has made himself available to us. In that sense, he is seeking Zacchaeus . . . and also seeking us.

This question of who is doing the seeking reflects a broader issue for us. People often believe that they are seeking God. They ponder the question of God’s existence. They turn to God in prayer.

God often appears elusive. It often looks to them as though they are the ones who are doing the seeking, that they are taking the initiative.

On the other hand, God is always there, always available to us. We do not have to travel to the ends of the earth to find God. God is everywhere. We only have to open up our eyes, that is to say, the eyes of faith.

When we look at it from that perspective, we can say that God is attracting us by the mysterious power of grace. God is the one who is taking the initiative. We sometimes speak of finding God. But in reality, it is God who has found us.

“The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost,” just as the shepherd seeks the lost sheep and leaves behind the 99 who are safe, just as the woman who lost the coin seeks it by sweeping the house until she finds it, just as the compassionate father waits for the return of his prodigal son.

We heard those parables recently in the Gospel reading for Sun., Sept. 11. This Sunday’s, Gospel reading continues an important theme of Luke’s Gospel: God’s initiative in bringing us salvation.

Through Jesus Christ, God has sought us out and has found us. For that, we can be infinitely grateful.

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