As is my custom on Mondays, I read the upcoming Gospel lesson for next Sunday. I like to let it soak in a bit before Sunday rolls around. The week generally passes so quickly, that I don't really feel that gives me enough time...but I try.
This lesson is the one that kids at Vacation Bible School have been singing about since the beginning of time...the story of the "wee little man" - Zaccheus. As I re-read the story this week, it occurred to me, that Zaccheus's transformation is exactly what Peter Rollins has been talking about with some of his recent blogs. (www.peterrollins.net) Transformation brings about change. If we are truly transformed, change is imminent for us.
We aren't told what happened at Zaccheus's house between him and Jesus. Jesus gets him out of the tree, they head out, and then we hear about the end result - Zaccheus's entire way of doing "life" is changed in an instant. He goes from sinner to sanctified, just like that.
More than ever I'm curious what the intervening day/evening looked like. Did Jesus just have such a presence, that he swayed Zaccheus without even really saying a word? Or did Jesus ask him about his life and they get to know one another over some bread and wine? Did Jesus move him with beautiful, powerful words? I'm left wondering. How did it go? What did it look like?
Sometimes life happens like that...in an instant we feel alive, the connection between ourselves and another person is overwhelming. It's as if we are set on fire about some thing or someone. It's inexplicable really, that moment of *knowing.*
Today I was in court with a woman who was losing her rights to her two small daughters. I have found myself very moved by her situation from the beginning. I cannot imagine the pain she had to face today. Her addiction has landed her in a number of messes, but this one had to have been the worse. Not only is she in prison for her drug problem, but now...to heap on the insults...she loses her parental rights to the children she carried in her womb, delivered and loved. Despite her addiction, or perhaps in addition to being an addict, she was a mother. And no one would have testified today that she didn't love those girls. She and I met today in a tiny jail cell prior to her hearing. She was shackled and looked like a child herself. I sat next to her. As she cried, and I fumbled for words and fought my own tears, I finally looked her dead in the eye and said, "You will always and forever be their mother. No court proceedings will change how you feel about them. They were yours from the day you knew of their existence, and they always will be in your heart." She stopped crying for a minute and met my gaze. She understood. I wasn't her lawyer anymore, I was another woman who knew what it was to carry, deliver and love my own children, imperfectly. There was a moment of transformation for her, for me. My life has been altered by hers, by the intersection of our lives. As my son sleeps softly next to me, I am thinking about her and her daughters, and hoping for their futures.
Try as we might to turn over a rock and find it somewhere else, the message, the Good News is always there, just at or below the surface of where we live. We find it always in relationship to another.
I still wonder about Zaccheus. I wonder what Jesus said or did (or perhaps what he didn't say or didn't do) to usher in transformation for Zaccheus. I wonder how Jesus was changed by Zaccheus. Because we can't relate to another and not be changed/transformed/altered in some fundamental way. I suppose it's another question I don't have an answer to. But all the same, I know the result. And it's a beautiful thing.