Monday, March 16, 2015

Zacchaeus, Years Later

For a variety of reasons, my church is off-lectionary right now.  We spend 2 weeks with each text, and for the past two weeks, it's been the story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who climbed into a tree to see Jesus.

After his encounter he vows to make a change.  He will repay all that he has stolen--more than that, he'll give all his victims four times the amount.  Readers through the centuries have assumed that he joyfully lived this way the rest of his days.

But did he?  The Bible doesn't say.  We like to assume that Jesus came and changed lives and minds permanently.

My spouse did a lay reflection yesterday where he talked about how hard it is to be a just person in a corrupt system.  And while the pastor was giving his reflection, a poem bubbled forth as I thought about what became of Zacchaeus in later years.

Sadly, I do not see him as permanently changed.  In my poem, he meant to do the things he said he would do.  He meant to change.  But then emergencies happened, and he needed cash infusions, and what's a man to do?

As my spouse said, it's hard to be a just human in a corrupt system.  And it's not like the people of Jesus' time had lots of career choices.

I may play with this idea further.  I enjoyed the process of playing with narrative this way.  I've done this more with fairy tales than any other text.  Why haven't I done more with the colorful characters from the Bible?

Probably because like generations before me, I've seen their stories as complete.  Now I'll revisit them again.

I wonder if I could develop a variety of Lectio Divina to go with this kind of poem creation?  I'll experiment with this idea too.

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