O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the Lord have I taken refuge;
how then can you say to me,
‘Flee like a bird to the hills,
‘For see how the wicked bend the bow
and fit their arrows to the string,
to shoot from the shadows at the true of heart.
‘When the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?’
The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold,
his eyelids try every mortal being.
The Lord tries the righteous as well as the wicked,
but those who delight in violence his soul abhors.
Upon the wicked he shall rain coals of fire
and burning sulphur;
scorching wind shall be their portion to drink.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds,
and those who are upright shall behold his face.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’
Do you consider yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist? Do you see the world as a place of opportunity or despair? Do you see your fellow human beings as companions or obstacles? When you have stopped thinking about those big questions, here is another conundrum: are you an optimist or a pessimist in matters of faith?
We are all called to live a life that is humble, loving and serving. No matter what our personal feelings about the circumstances in which we find ourselves, or about the people amongst whom we live out our daily lives, we are called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Saviour.
This is, of course, a very big challenge for all of us. Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus was constantly surrounded by those who vilified him, by those who plotted to destroy him. But … this never changed his resolve to bring healing and new life wherever he went.
When we look at Jesus’ ministry in this context, and alongside his call for us to live in the same way, it is easy for us to become overwhelmed with our own shortcomings. It is easy for us to see ourselves as being beyond all hope. But, that is not the message we hear in today’s reading: the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.
During the Covid pandemic there has been much talk of harm being done to our mental wellbeing. People have become isolated and lonely, immobile and lacking in confidence. People have forgotten how to express joy. But, it is to these very people that Jesus comes to bring hope, light, life and renewed joy.
Zacchaeus saw himself as being beyond hope, and yet he still sought out Jesus. His profession and his personal standing distanced him from ‘respectable’ religious society, and yet he still sought out Jesus. It could not have been easy for him to climb that sycamore tree, but he did, and Jesus recognized and rewarded the faith of that man who saw himself as being beyond hope.
As well as being humble, loving and serving, all who call themselves Christians are called to be joyous in their faith. They are called to run on ahead of Jesus as heralds of the good news he brought into this world. They are called to trust that Jesus knows their hearts and minds, and that he will save those who believe themselves to be lost. Alleluia!
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to the Father, who sent the Son to seek and save the lost.
As we begin to prepare for the coming of Jesus in his Incarnation, teach us to remember that he will come again to be our judge, and make us ready to meet him. Fill your Church with the sincere repentance that does not trust in outward show.
Give to those in authority and to all who influence the lives of others the spirit of mercy towards the oppressed and unprotected. May those who control money matters be just and honourable in their dealings.
Bless us, our families and friends, with a burning desire to be close to Jesus and to know him better. Help us to be generous in giving to those in need.
Have mercy on those who have turned from evil ways and yet are not accepted back. Relieve the distress of all whose lives have been damaged by the extortion and dishonesty of others.
We remember those who have died, that they may be found worthy of your Kingdom. When they are judged, grant them the mercy of Christ.
We pray that we may be made fit to receive Christ in our homes and in our hearts.
Prayer for the week
God of righteousness, God of peace,
forgive the selfishness, greed and arrogance
that cause us to be at enmity one with another.
Help us and all people to live together
in Christian love and goodwill;
and teach the nations of the world
the things that belong to their peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
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