Saturday, 16 May 2009

The repentant trougher

Someone mentioned Zacchaeus last night, the little tax-collector who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). I immediately thought of the ongoing saga of MP’s expenses. In particular, I was reminded of the way some MPs have offered to pay back expenses that they should not have claimed.

But when Zacchaeus met Jesus, he went a bit further. "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

Four times the amount. I haven’t heard any MPs volunteering to do that.

And it wasn’t as if Zacchaeus had just been caught, and his troughing* activities were newly revealed to people of Jericho. They had known for years, but were powerless to do anything about it. No - it was simply that Jesus had invited himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ house.

Now there was a man who was sorry. Not sorry that he had been found out. Not sorry that the people were angry at him. Not sorry that he faced losing his position. But sorry that he had done what was wrong.

* trough v.i. to greedily help oneself to whatever perks and benefits one can get one’s hands on. [From the behaviour of pigs at a feeding trough.]

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