Zacchaeus and financial cuts

I’m preparing for Sunday’s sermon and for a conversation on the radio early on Sunday morning on the morality of money – bet you didn’t know money had morals did you?

One of the commentaries I’m using is by Fred Craddock (Luke Interpretation Series, published by John Knox Press). We know very little about the Chief Tax Collector of Jericho before or after he met Jesus, but we can work out a few things:

  • He was small
  • He was hated
  • He was rich
  • He was determined (he climbed a tree despite being tiny)
  • He was not easily embarrassed (he was happy enough to let the town see him hiding in the branches)

But Craddock makes a wonderful point about Zacchaeus’ place in the community. He reminds us that Zacchaeus would have been a collaborator with the occupying Roman forces and, as Chief Tax Collector, would have been making money from the collectors under him as well as from the people. There could have been no true piety before the encounter half way up a tree.

Craddock says: “this much we know on principle: no one can be privately righteous while participating in and profiting from a programme that robs and crushes other persons.”

That puts a great burden on the people of faith who will be voting for significant changes in public policy in parliament and local authorities in the days and months to come.



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