Scripture: Lectionary 498. Tue. Nov.20, 2012. Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22. Psalm 15:2-3.3-4.5. Luke 19:1-10:
The story of Zacchaeus echoes the theme of the Gospel of Luke and serves as a model of true conversion. The mercy of Jesus shines through this delightful narrative. Openness to change is something we all would like to do and often think we are doing it! The real test is to be like Zacchaeus who demonstrates that he is definitely open to change by restoring whatever he had taken from another and doing it with great generosity. He is thrilled that Jesus asks to dine with him at his house. This leads him to let go of everything he was attached to and now to pay attention on the great guest who will come to dwell in his home.
Zacchaeus was a friend of the Romans who occupied the land of Jesus; he had made his money on the people by means of taxing the people according to the Roman standards and then could also make them pay more by carefully convincing them they needed to do so in order to be protected and safe from further taxes and even imprisonment. He was a small man but had lofty aspirations. Somehow grace struck him to pay attention to Jesus who was near his home town of Jericho. His climbing a tree (it is not really a sycamore) shows his adventuresome spirit not only in handling money but in succeeding in what he wishes to do—namely to see Jesus. He is noticed and then the fun begins with his profession of restoring whatever he may unjustly done to anyone of his customers.
The people considered him an outsider, a sinner, and a notorious tax collector. His heart was touched and he changes. For real change it takes more than reading the signs of the times or willing it; God has to break through our fixed behavior patterns and opinions whether political or religious. Grace alone gives us the start, but then like Zacchaeus, we have to accept that grace and act upon it and climb a tree in order to see things better!
Did Zacchaeus pray? If he did, it would have been similar to our Psalm for the day which shows what the graced person must have as an attitude and disposition. It is a remarkable psalm for this incident recorded by the Evangelist of mercy and forgiveness, Luke.
The event is true and strikes us as even being comical. Zacchaeus realizes that riches are not the ultimate thing to desire. He was willing to give up almost all that he had accumulated. Jesus touched his heart and gave him a greater reason for living and making a living. He had lacked the depth of true love and friendship but found it in the Lord. He now had a remarkable future to look forward to and no longer would hurt any of his customers.
We can join him in our meditating, listening, and putting into action the words of Jesus: “Today salvation has come to this house…I, Jesus, the Son of Man, have come to search out and save what was lost.”
Jesus was the one looking for him while he was trying to look and see Jesus from a tree. We are daily invited by Jesus to dine with him in the Eucharistic banquet at the table of the Lord. Happy Thanksgiving! Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.