Jericho, about 11,000 years old, is one of the oldest cities in the world. 846 feet below sea level. Although it has an annual rainfall of only 6.4 inches, a nearby spring produces 1,000 gallons of water per minute, making the area fertile for agriculture. Its name probably means "fragrant."
Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, is very wealthy (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus loves the little guy up in the tree and says, "Zacchaeus, hurry down, for today I must stay at your house." Zacchaeus is not just tickled. Luke says that he is filled with joy and welcomes Jesus into his home. The gracious love of Jesus touches the heart of this extremely unpopular rich man and transforms his life.
You could hang yourself on Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. As soon as you say, "I'm not like that Pharisee," you are like that Pharisee, judging yourself better than he. It's more helpful to look deep in our own hearts and see how easy it is to slide from appreciating God's gifts to feeling vain about how wonderful we are.
In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14) Jesus points out the folly of thinking that we can make ourselves good. It's important to recognize the goodness in ourselves, but crucial to acknowledge that all of it comes from God.
A 50 year old trying to get by with the faith of a child is a spiritual cripple. Even an 80 year old trying to get by on the faith of a 50 year old. Change in our religious and spiritual life is crucial. Autumn's glory assures us that change is beautiful.
A family of brilliant children are on a weekly radio quiz show. The oldest, Seymour, tells his sister Franny to polish her shoes beforehand. She asks why since no one can see their shoes. He tells her to polish her shoes "for the fat lady" sitting on her porch listening to their show.
Later Franny asks another brother, Zooey, who the "fat lady" is. He answers, "There isn't anyone out there who isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. There isn't anyone anywhere who isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. And don't you know--listen to me now--don't you know who that Fat Lady really is? It's Christ Himself."
(from J.D. Salinger's Zooey)
I took my boat over to the marina to be pulled today. I took my time, remembering how much this Lake has meant to me since 1950, when my aunt and uncle bought their place here. They let me spend most of the summer at their place before my last year in the seminary. The memory of these gentle hills rising out of the water got me through that last year when I was so eager to get out and start working as a priest.
This is the coast where our family vacationed in Oregon. That's not our family. The days were hot. The water is very cold. No one swims. A few hardy folk put their feet in. I felt sorry for little children who thought that going to the beach meant playing in the sand, not the ocean. But the view is Beauty.
As I started my walk this morning this was my greeting. We were in Oregon visiting family. This was my first morning walk since I got back. Being in other beautiful places refreshes my appreciation of Beauty here. Not the grandeur of the Oregon Coast, but Beauty still.