1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchae’us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchae’us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchae’us stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Meditation: What would you do if Jesus knocked on your door and said, “I must stay at your home today”? Would you be excited or embarrassed? Jesus often “dropped-in” at unexpected times and he often visited the “uninvited” – the poor, the lame, and even public sinners like Zacchaeus, the tax collector! Tax collectors were despised and treated as outcasts, no doubt because they over-charged people and accumulated great wealth at the expense of others. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was much hated by all the people. Why would Jesus single him out for the honor of staying at his home? Zacchaeus needed God’s merciful love and forgiveness. In his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible. He shows the depth of his repentance by deciding to give half of his goods to the poor and to use the other half for making restitution for fraud. Zacchaeus’ testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine.
Saint Augustine of Hippo urges us to climb the sycamore tree like Zacchaeus that we might see Jesus and embrace his cross for our lives:
The Lord Jesus is always ready to make his home with each one of us. Do you make room for him in your heart and in every area of your life?
“Lord Jesus, come and stay with me. Fill my life with your peace, my home with your presence, and my heart with your praise. Help me to show kindness, mercy, and goodness to all, even to those who cause me ill-will or harm.”
1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue, and does no evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
4 in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest, and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.