Jesus said: “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” – Luke 19.5
Zacchaeus, Martin, Elizabeth, Kevin, Mandy, Thomas, Madison, Eli, Callie, you, me… it doesn’t matter whose name is at the start of this sentence taken from the gospel of Luke, Jesus is speaking to each one of us. Not just once and while, not just when we think we need him or when we wish he would show up, no, always. Each day Jesus says to us, “I must stay at your house today.”
“I must,” Jesus says. This alone is a gift. That Jesus sees being with us as a must. The “I must” is not a maybe, not when his schedule clears, not for the holidays, not when winter passes. No excuses necessary so Zacchaeus can attest to. This is a must which comes from a deep place of love and care. A deep desire to be present to us and for us in our everyday living. Remember scripture tells us that Emmanuel means – “God with us” and by Jesus saying “I must stay at your house today” is another way of reminding us of this truth.
This causes us a bit of panic. We think our homes are not good enough, we think we are unworthy, we think that too many others will talk. Again, Zacchaeus can attest to this, that no excuse is worth making to Jesus. When Jesus says must, he means it. Like Zacchaeus we too should “hurry and be happy to welcome him.” Do we? Do we readily welcome Jesus each day into our homes? Into our living? Into our working? Into our joys and struggles?
I guess that is what I have been pondering this past week and when I read this gospel for this weekend it gave some context to my pondering.
I have been pondering my Grandparents as they settle into new surroundings and a new home after many years in their rural community. They are now city dwellers in a retirement residence and it’s taking some time for them to adjust and find their new normal. Yet, Jesus knocks at their door and says, “I must come and stay at your house today.” I’m sure there are days they struggle to hear the knocking or don’t want to answer the door, but I think each day they do in some way. Whether it is answering the phone from one of family calling or meeting a new neighbour at lunch or slowly figuring out what the residence offers them for activities, Jesus is indeed staying at their house today.
I know they don’t necessarily see it this way, but these two have been witnesses to me and my journey of faith and so I know in their hearts there is truth that Jesus is at their house. I know this because their faith is their anchor and as life changes with aging, different struggles are faced and new challenges are trying to be embraced they rely on Christ who is present to them. They rely on prayer which has been their foundation, they rely on each other and a passionate – loved-filled – vibrant marriage, they rely on the care and concern of others and it is in these moments that the must of the invitation of Jesus is made evident. It is these moments which speak of Emmanuel – “God with us” which they have witnessed to me my whole life.
So whether we are settling into a retirement residence or facing a new adventure in our work life, whether we are trying to navigate what it means to be family or have the courage to stand alone, whether we are content with life or beginning anew, we always have a companion because Jesus said “he must stay at our house today” and decided not to leave because God desires nothing more than to love us and remain with us. This is indeed Good News!