Welcome the Outcast
By Scott Murphy, First Presidency
A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. …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.” —Luke 19:2, 5–10 NRSV
One day while sitting in a coffee shop pondering the story of Zacchaeus, I noticed a homeless man sitting outside. His presence drew my awareness to how poverty affected the quality of his life and how it touches society. The temperature was below freezing. This older man was wearing only a shirt and a thin sweater. I could tell he was cold and not healthy.
In those few moments, a car stopped next to the man. The driver lowered his window and handed a blanket to the man, who accepted the gift. A few brief words were exchanged, and the car drove off. The homeless man wrapped himself in the warmth of the blanket that offered care for his life and then left. This simple expression of generosity struck me. It was a gift of salvation for the physical well-being of another by one who gave from his capacity.
The story of Zacchaeus is a powerful tale of the gift of salvation—in its multiple layers—that Jesus extended. The gift Zacchaeus received and embodied released in him a radical expression of generosity for those affected by poverty.
Generosity always begins with our awareness of receiving God’s gift of love and invitation. When we are willing to be vulnerable to receive this gift, we can discover our capacity to be living expressions of generosity we share with another.
Prayer for Peace
Finder of the lost, may we be awake to those moments of generosity that happen around us every day. May we be willing to risk extending our capacity for generosity and the invitation for the welfare of human life we encounter in our daily journey.
Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle.
Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or challenging to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep us from loving one another.
Today, God, I will be vigilant in my awareness of those who need action on my part.