Don’t let sin stop you from seeking Jesus

| Deacon Brandon Theisen | October 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

I don’t like being judged for my sins. When I was younger, I would do two things to conceal my identity when I went to confession.

First, I would “sandwich” my sins. If I had a big sin to confess, I would slip it in between two lesser sins and say the larger sin quickly. If swearing were the larger sin, I’d say, “Lying, talking back, swearing, disobeying my parents.” The priest would respond, “What was the last sin?” “Talking back?” I would say. And he would reply, “The one after that.” “Disobeying my parents?” I would say. Then the priest would give up, and I felt like I won because he wouldn’t hear my big sin.

My second trick was to speak in a deeper voice. I would also change my voice when I went behind the screen, so the priest wouldn’t recognize that it was me. I did both of these things because I didn’t want the priest to judge me for my sins.

In the Gospel for Oct. 30, we read about Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus, a story with which we are all too familiar. Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector and a man of small stature. He abused his position as chief tax collector to steal money from his fellow Jews so as to line his pockets. These offenses are why tax collectors were seen as social outcasts and sinners. But Zacchaeus’ heart was filled with joy when Jesus visited his village. Zacchaeus so desired to see Jesus that he did two radical things: He ran to get a better view, and he climbed a tree. It might not seem too radical to us, but in Jesus’ time it was undignified for a man of Zacchaeus’ status to run in public or climb trees. But Zacchaeus was so moved by the joy of Christ that he didn’t care what others thought of his actions.

So, do we appear like Zacchaeus, a man who is struggling with sin, but longing to encounter Jesus? Or do we try to hide our faults and indiscretions?

As a young penitent, I did not act like Zacchaeus, but rather tried to cover up my sin. I was ashamed, embarrassed and afraid to be judged. On the other hand, Zacchaeus’ sins were known publicly, but that didn’t stop him from coming before Christ and following him.

We can learn from Zacchaeus that Christ doesn’t care how our sin appears to others, only how it appears to him. We long to encounter Christ, but we feel unworthy because of our sins and our baggage.

Don’t fear the judgment of your family, friends or whomever. Instead, act joyfully like Zacchaeus, run to Christ, climb a tree, do whatever you need to do to renew your relationship with your heavenly father.

Deacon Theisen is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His teaching parish is Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul, and his home parish is Epiphany in Coon Rapids.


Sunday, Oct. 30
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings

  • Wis 11:22-12:2
  • 2 Thes 1:11-2:2
  • Lk 19:1-10

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Category: Sunday Scriptures