Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
Habakkuk 1, Luke 19

Lectionary text for the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost:

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; Isaiah 1:10-18; Psalm 32:1-7; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10

Habakkuk 1:1-4: The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.
2 O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
     and you will not listen?
Or cry to you ‘Violence!’
     and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see wrongdoing
     and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
     strife and contention arise.
4 So the law becomes slack
     and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous—
     therefore judgment comes forth perverted.

Habakkuk 2:1-4: “I will stand at my watch-post,
     and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
     and what he will answer concerning my complaint.
2 Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write the vision;
     make it plain on tablets,
     so that a runner may read it.
3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
     it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
     it will surely come, it will not delay.
4 Look at the proud!
    Their spirit is not right in them,
     but the righteous live by their faith.

Luke 19:1-10: “He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a Sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5 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.’ 6 So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ 8 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.’ 9 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost Comment: The prophet echoes a cry that I suspect all of us have uttered. “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help and you will not listen?” I think these are the words that burst from our souls either when we need patience or have exhausted our reserve of patience.

I have heard that “Patience is a virtue? What is the benefit of this virtue, anyway? Let me say that the benefits are infinite because God, the creator of the grace that generates patience is infinite.

A friend called me to share her concern about her daughter who has little patience with those in the workplace. At the slightest provocation she quickly resigns from a job.

I told my friend that a few years ago I received a different perspective of patience. I told her that previously I believed that patience was something I needed to bear up until my personal problem was resolved. However, I now know that patience is also a time for me to wait and watch God to intervene in the life of someone else. Patience here takes the spectators position like that of Habakkuk at the ‘watch-post. Patience here is needed to keep us from interfering in the necessary process of change in another’s life, especially someone I love.

What did Zacchaeus, this hated man, ‘a chief tax-collector’ need from Jesus? What was he watching waiting for? The benefit was a change in heart. A greedy man became a generous man. A fraudulent man became a humble man. Is this what Habakkuk saw in his vision meant for you and me? What are we waiting for? By faith we can see that wherever patience is needed, we are being changed into the image of Christ.

Extraordinary Patience in Ordinary Times,
Rev. Julia
© October, 28, 2010

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