Do you ever wonder about the small man Zacchaeus, the tax collector, we hear about in the gospel? Is there something important that we ought to hear anew with the biblical narrative of Zacchaeus? What’s the point? Doing lectio divina and working on my spiritual life I have come realize it is not enough to know about Jesus, but like Zacchaeus to want to see the Lord. He wanted to meet Jesus. Little Zacchaeus wanted to meet the Person who answered the needs of his human heart.
The desire to see Jesus of Nazareth moves the heart in a most deep way even to the point of confusing us at times. Even to the point of climbing a tree, a childish behavior, Zacchaeus had to see Jesus pass by.
Obstacles in meeting the Lord are always present: family, friends, church and societal leaders, addictions, sin, a divided heart, ideology, etc. But the obstacles are not the final answer, nor a barrier that is insurmountable. God’s grace is available.
Jesus loved Zacchaeus when virtually no one loved him. Hence, the radical change in life for Zacchaeus; recall that he gave much of his assets away and followed Jesus. We ought to be eager as Zacchaeus was to make amends, to make a conversion of heart (that is, to confess our sin and life differently) and Jesus draws sinners to himself. I think of the Jews who just celebrated on Saturday the feast of Yom Kippur, a day of repentance and the conversion, recognizing the need to draw closer to God and to allow to draw closer to us.
Can we show the same mercy the Lord showed to Zacchaeus to others? In fact, this is the mission we have because of our Baptism and because we profess to be disciples of Him whose gaze upon us by changing us. Do I shield my gaze from the Lord and give it to distractions?
Zacchaeus hears Jesus’s words: TODAY, I must stay with you. In other words, Jesus says to him, and thus to us, can I show you love? Can I give you the words of repentance and new life? Can I walk, build and confess the Lord? The Lord tells us in this narrative that anything, really anything, is possible if you allow Him into your life.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria offers us a keen reflection:
“Zacchaeus was leader of the tax collectors, a man entirely abandoned to greed, whose only goal was the increase of his gains. This was the practice of the tax collectors, although Paul calls it idolatry, possibly as being suitable only for those who have no knowledge of God. Since they shamelessly, openly professed this vice, the Lord very justly joined them with the prostitutes, saying ‘The prostitutes and the tax collectors go before you into the kingdom of God.’ Zacchaeus did not continue to be among them, but he was found worthy of mercy at Christ’s hands. He calls near those who are far away and gives light to those who are in darkness.”
Our Lord teaches us to love and what it means to love; can Jesus be our guest? Is he allowed to enter our house? Can I build with a unified heart a “civilization of love”?