Sunday of Zacchaeus

SUNDAY OF ZACCHAEUS

VESPERS

Stichera at Psalm 140: 7 resurrection stichera

3. Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand, the Lord thus begins his message. The kingdom of God is not power and wealth, it is not human vanity nor the collection of taxes, but mercy and forgiveness. Forgive us, O Lord, in the abundance of your tender mercy.

2. The Lord led his disciples to climb a high mountain, and there was transfigured by divine glory. Today Zacchaeus climbs the sycamore tree, and beholds the glory of God’s mercy. Forgive us, O Lord, in the abundance of your tender mercy.

1. Compassionate Lord, you chose the lowly and despised of the world to shame the wise, that where sin increased, grace abounded the more. Forgive us, O Lord, in the abundance of your tender mercy.

Glory. Hide not your light under a bushel, Jesus warned. Today the light of Zacchaeus’ search for God illumines the whole world from the height of the sycamore tree. As the rays of this light warm the zeal of repentance, we implore: Come under the roof of our hearts as you came to the house of the tax-collector, O all-compassionate Lord.

v. Glory … Now and ever … Dogmaticon

Apostichera:
Resurrection Tone
v. Glory ….
When Elijah ascended in his fiery chariot, Elisha received double of his spirit. Today Zacchaeus climbs the sycamore tree, and gives back fourfold from his wealth, repenting for those he defrauded. Follow his example, O my soul, that you may receive infinite mercy from Christ the Savior.
v. Now and ever … (Theotokion in the tone of the doxasticheron, TBD)

MATINS

Canon, Acrostich, “Zacchaeus is saved by Christ.”

Ode 1:
Irmos: Christ is born; glorify him, Christ from the heavens; go out to meet him. Christ on earth; exalt him. All the earth, sing to the Lord and praise him with joy, all peoples, for he is glorified.

Zacchaeus climbed the sycamore tree, to see his Lord, his healer, his Savior. But Jesus cried aloud, “Come down today, for I must now stay in your house.

At Jordan’s bank, the Lord proclaimed, “Today Adam’s nature is reclaimed.” Zacchaeus the tax man cheated, stealing, but today he shares in Adam’s healing.

Chariots of Egypt are drowned with fear, while humanity’s sins are washed away by tears. Zacchaeus descends from his post, to be a gracious host for Salvation.

Katavasia: The sun shed its rays upon dry land in the middle of the sea. The water on both sides stood firm as a wall while Israel walked across. They sang this hymn pleasing to God: Let us praise the Lord, for he has been greatly glorified.

Ode 3:
Irmos: Let us sing to the Son begotten of the Father without change before all ages. Let us cry aloud to Christ our God, incarnate from the virgin without seed in these latter days: you have exalted our horn, holy are you, O Lord.

Chase far from us the ancient errors. Remove from us death’s fearful terrors. Zacchaeus surrenders his money and power, finding life in the towers of the sycamore.

“Hasten down, Zacchaeus, my friend, make amends now to all your victims.” The Teacher says: Now Life will eat dinner with a repentant sinner.

Anna’s prayers were heard by Immanuel, who granted her a son, the prophet Samuel. Zacchaeus sealed his prayers by an ascension, and was healed by divine condescension.

Katavasia: O Lord, the solid rock of those who place their trust in you, strengthen the Church which you have purchased with your precious blood..

Sessional Hymn
O all-compassionate Creator, in your mercy you made Zacchaeus short of stature. O happy lack of height, which drew the tax-collector to climb the sycamore tree to see the Messiah. It brought him to repentance as he heard the sweet words of Jesus, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
Glory, Now and ever …

Ode 4:
Irmos:
O Christ, the rod from Jesse’s root and its flower, you blossomed from the virgin; praiseworthy one, from the overshadowed shady mountain. You came in the flesh from her who knew not man. God, not made of matter, glory to your power, O Lord!

Emmaus welcomed a stranger who opened the eyes of Luke and Cleopas. Though God was a stranger to the tax-collector, in Jericho Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus, who forgave his trespasses.

Under the sycamore tree with its silly fruit, Zacchaeus began the folly of repentance, for through the foolishness of the Cross, you have filled the whole world with wisdom.

Sister to Mary, Martha troubled herself with household tasks, but my soul is in need of such a cleansing that I may hear the Lord when he asks, “Today I must stay at your house.”

Katavasia: O Christ, your virtue has filled the heavens. You were born from an all-pure Mother, the Ark of your majesty, and you now enter the Temple of your glory as an infant in arms; and the whole world has been filled with your praises.

Ode 5:
Irmos:
O God of peace and Father of mercies, you sent us the angel of your great counsel to grant us peace. Thereby, we have been led toward the light of divine knowledge and rising out of the night, we glorify you, O Lover of us all. .

In Jericho, two blind men received their sight because of their faith. Today in Jericho repentant Zacchaeus sees the Son of God and receives enlightenment.

Seeking God by climbing a tree, Zacchaeus was amazed to find him here below, for the Lord has lowered the heavens and took human flesh.

Shamefully Zacchaeus committed idolatry, worshiping money rather than the one true God, but today he throws off the burden of wealth, welcoming the Son of God into his house, with prostitutes and his fellow tax collectors entering first into the kingdom of heaven.

Katavasia: In a vision Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, surrounded by angels of glory, and he cried out: Woe is me! For I have seen in advance the incarnate God, the light that knows no evening, and the King of peace.

Ode 6:
Irmos: Taking pity on Jonah, the sea monster that took him kept him like an infant from the womb. The Word which inhabited the Virgin and took flesh, came forth from her and kept her incorrupt. He underwent no change, and kept intact the one who bore him.

Ascending the pine, the cedar and the cypress, Jesus works salvation in the middle of the earth. Zacchaeus ascends the sycamore and receives divine salvation.

Victory over sin! Jesus’ path through the Jordan to Jericho crushes the heads of the serpents in the water. Zacchaeus ascends with Jesus, each branch of the tree a step to higher virtue. The sycamore becomes a tree of life, a vantage point for God.

Eating the fruit of the tree, Adam and Eve were cursed. Zacchaeus, however, climbed the tree and was blessed by the Creator of all.

Katavasia: When Simeon beheld with his own eyes the salvation which was to come to the people, he cried out to God: O Christ, who comes from God, you are truly my God..

Kontakion:
Today Jesus sees the tax-collector in the sycamore tree. Today the Son of Man saves the repentant son of Abraham. Today the Lord baptized in the Jordan seeks and saves what was lost. Rejoice, O city of Jericho, you beheld the entrance of Joshua but now receive the Lord Jesus who takes away the sin of the world. Rejoice, O Zacchaeus, for salvation has come to your home.

Ikos:
O Lord, you are good and forgiving, full of love to all who call. Today you forgive the repentant Zacchaeus, who has turned from his love of money and, with great desire, has sought you, the Seeker of the lost. Therefore, we cry out:
Rejoice, all you children of Abraham, for God’s promise has been fulfilled;
Rejoice, all who receive God’s mercy;
Rejoice, for the Savior has overlooked our sins;
Rejoice, O Jericho, for you are now the city of salvation;
Rejoice, Zacchaeus, for you once loved riches but now you love the poor;
Rejoice, Zacchaeus, for you restore righteousness with those you once cheated;
Rejoice, Zacchaeus, for by climbing the sycamore tree you have seen what the prophets longed to see;
Rejoice, O Zacchaeus, for salvation has come to your home.

Ode 7:

Irmos: The youths brought up together in piety, despised the order of the impious king. Undaunted by the threat of fire, they stood in the midst of the flames and sang this hymn: Blessed are you, O God of our fathers.

Disdaining the crowd, O Lord, you gazed upon the tax collector high in the sycamore tree. The crowd was astonished that Jesus entered the house of a sinner, but the Physician of souls revealed: Today salvation has come to this son of Abraham.

Behold, salvation now enters the city of Jericho. Behold, salvation has come to the house of Zacchaeus, the son of Abraham. May that same Salvation enter our hearts and our homes.

You came to Jericho through the waters of the Jordan, accepting baptism for our sake. You cleansed the sins of the tax collector, purify us as we pass through the dry bed of the waters of the fast.

Katavasia: We praise with fervor the Word of God who sent down dew upon the youths in the furnace as they spoke about heavenly things and who has now taken flesh from the pure Virgin. We sing to him: blessed are you, O God of our fathers.

Ode 8:

Irmos: The fire cooled like dew, miraculously, foreshadowed a great marvel. For it did not burn the youths it received, nor did the fire of divinity burn the Virgin’s womb by entering it. Therefore, let us strike up a hymn and sing: Let all creation bless and exalt the Lord forever.

Charged with corruption, the philosopher of old drank hemlock from the sycamore and died. The corrupt tax-collector climbs the sycamore and lives, for he saw Christ, the Redeemer of creation.

Home to Mary and Martha, Bethany welcomed the Master, the Giver of life for his friend Lazarus. In Jericho, Zacchaeus welcomed the Lord, who dined at his home in a banquet of life.

Repentance is a long and difficult road, yet when the divine Eye saw you, O Zacchaeus, in a flash, in an instant you distributed the fruits of your transformation to those whom you before had cheated.

Katavasia: The three youths stood together in the unendurable fire, unharmed by the flame. As defenders of righteousness, they sang a hymn of praise: O all you works of the Lord, bless the Lord and glorify him above all forever.

Ode 9:
Irmos: I see a strange and marvelous mystery: heaven is a cave; the cherubic throne, a virgin; the manger has become the place in which Christ the incomprehensible God lies down. Let us praise him and extol him.

In Jericho, the blast of trumpets is not heard, for it is not Joshua the Warrior who enters the city. Jesus now comes, to conquer the sins of the tax-collector who desired to see God.

Shortness of stature forced Zacchaeus to climb a tree to see the Savior. May the lowliness of our sins move us to climb the ladder of repentance.

There is no one who touches Christ and remains unchanged. Zacchaeus, clinging to the sycamore tree, sees Jesus and becomes a saint. Bring us to the land of holiness as we struggle to chant worthy hymns.

Katavasia: O faithful, let us recognize the figure of Christ foreshadowed in the letter of the Law which says: Every male child who opens the womb is sanctified to God. Therefore, the first born Word and Son of the Father without beginning, the first-born of a mother who had not known man: him, let us extol.

Hymn of Light

Gospel Sticheron

Glory …
Zacchaeus imitated poorly the ascension of our Lord, yet found glory on the tree-top. O my poor soul, imitate his repentance, so that climbing the ladder of virtue by the grace of God, you may eat of the fruit of the tree of life.

Now and ever … (Theotokion of the Gospel)

At the Praises: 8 stichera of the Resurrection Tone
At sticheron 7:
v. I shall praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I shall declare all your wondrous deeds.
At sticheron 8:
v. I will rejoice in you and be glad, and sing psalms to your name, O Most High.
Then:
v. Arise, O Lord my God, lift up your hand, do not forget your poor forever

Leaving the banks of the Jordan for the city of Jericho, let us bury our sins of anger and fury and malice beneath the river’s waves. Let us climb the tree to catch a glimpse of our Savior, coming in due time to the day of Pascha. Bestow on us the grace of repentance, O merciful and compassionate Master.

v. Glory …. Gospel sticheron.

v. Now and ever … You are truly most blessed …

A MESSAGE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

A MESSAGE ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch today, the foremost Christian leaders, said, in a joint statement:

“However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs.”

In this paragraph, which I have chosen to cite, there is no mention of “climate change.” I make this observation because there are many on the political right who claim that climate change is a myth – though, in my opinion, these people would be like the medievalists who claimed the earth was flat. The statements of the two most prominent leaders of the church is not a scientific statement, it is a theological statement. How are we to interpret Genesis 1:28: “God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth,” or “The heavens belong to the Lord, but he has given the earth to men. (Psalm 115:16)” They are teaching us clearly that it does not mean to exploit the earth as we wish. We, instead, are stewards, co-operators with God, who wisely harvest the earth and preserve its beauty. This is the authentic teaching of the Church.

Did not Pope Francis say, “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” (Laudato Si 21) We who have lived in Detroit (auto factories); Pittsburgh (steel mills), Akron (rubber factories), or Cleveland (the pollution of Lake Erie, the burning of the Cuyahoga River) know from experience how ugly we can make the world and its air and water. I have a very dear friend who once lectured me for twenty minutes about the myth of “climate change,” but finally admitted that, yes, we should have ecological controls to insure clean air, clean water, healthy food. We cannot allow the gains we have made in these areas to be lost to an unbridled “profit motive” that would exploit the resources God has given us in His infinite wisdom.

On a political note, I am disheartened about some of the policies of Trump and his secretive EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, which J. R. R. Tolkien may have foreshadowed in his story of Saruman and Wormtongue in the Shire: “And looking with dismay up the road towards Bag End they (the hobbit travellers) saw a tall chimney of brick in the distance. It was pouring out black smoke into the evening air” (J. R. R. Tolkien, Return of the King, “The Scouring of the Shire.”) I meditated on this: Central to the Christian Gospel is the return to paradise and the removal of the curse on Adam and Eve. “No longer does the flaming sword guard the gates of Eden, for the tree of the cross has come to quench it wondrously.” (Kontakion, Veneration of the Holy Cross) Technology is a divine gift that can create a paradise, but could also be used for uncurbed exploitation of the world’s resources in order to make a profit. We deny climate change to justify this exploitation, which is a great sin. We must be good stewards of the gifts we have received, and not show partiality to the rich. (James 2:2) My prayer is that Mary’s gospel can be fulfilled, “He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:52-53) This is sung daily in the Church.

The Orthodox Church has an office for this day (September 1). The Troparion: “Lord and Savior, who as God brought all things into being by a word, establishing laws and gioverning them unerringly to your glory, at the prayers of the Mother of God, keep secure and unharmed all the elements which hold the earth together, and save the universe.” (Tone 4, translation by Ephrem Lash.)