The Gospel according to Luke (19:1-10)
At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”
I’ve always loved the story of Zacchaeus. From him climbing the sycamore tree to see Jesus to his promise to pay back those he stole from, it’s such a wonderful story of redemption. It’s especially nice to have it here toward the end of the liturgical year, when we think ahead to the new liturgical year and really, to how we want to live our life of faith out in that new year.
The one point I wanted to make about Zacchaeus today is how Jesus calls him by name and says “I must stay at your house today.” Jesus does the same to all of us, His followers. He calls *us* by name. He says He *must* stay at our house today. It’s a wonderful reminder that He wants to be part of our lives and not just the parts that we want to show Him. No. He wants to see *all* of it, including and maybe especially the parts that we are less glad to share. Jesus knows that it’s those less-desirable parts of ourselves that need to be redeemed and transformed. It’s not promised to be easy or painless, but getting through that transformation can enable us to do even more for His kingdom right here on earth.
And, the other part of the story – Zacchaeus paying back those he took from – reminds us all that, yes, Jesus always calls us back, and we are forgiven when we ask. But, we still have to pay back for the damages our sins cause. The “paying back” is what really heals the relationship that was damaged. It is what shows that we are willing to change from the heart. It’s not easy, though.
It’s been eight months now since Linda and I were on pilgrimage in the Holy Land, and we visited Jericho while we were there. The tour guide stopped next to the tree that traditionally is said to be the one that Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus. As you’ll see in the photo with this reflection, it’s not a remarkable tree. But, it’s in the unremarkable that Jesus works. It’s in the unremarkable days we walk through that Jesus can shine through us.
May each of us be as willing as Zacchaeus to want to see Jesus more in our lives and may we be willing to change our hearts in any way that is needed to allow us to show forth His love in our world today and everyday.
Action for the Day:
Take some time today and think of what you can do to walk closer to Jesus today. What is keeping you from being the best servant of His? Ask Jesus to show you how you can be an even better vessel of His love, and how you can share that love with all whom you meet today.
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