Today’s Gospel is very familiar to all of us. It is a key scriptural reading we use when preparing our our children for the Sacrament of reconciliation. This is also a great passage for us to reflect on in our prayer.
Zacchaeus was a man apart, collaborating with the Romans in his office of tax collecting. He was determined to see Jesus and not standing on his dignity he climbed a tree. He was making great efforts to catch a glimpse of him. To what extent to I really desire to see Jesus and come to know him? What efforts do I make to see him? Jesus stopped under the tree and looked up and he called him by name. Jesus knew his name. “Zacchaeus come down quickly for I must stay at your house today”.
Imagine Jesus looking at you, calling you by name, and inviting himself into you home, your heart. Zacchaeus we are told “received him joyfully”. How would we react if Jesus said that he wanted to come into our heart? Imagine yourself joyfully receiving Jesus. How will the awareness of Jesus in you this effect you? Do you find yourself wanting to put things right?
As someone wrote: “I find happiness in putting things right, ordering my life, finding the springs of generosity and justice that have been stifled by old habits”. Zacchaeus was hated by the crowd and rejected but the acceptance and welcome of Jesus somehow changed him. If I allow Jesus into my heart what would I want to change about myself? It is Jesus presence and love that effected a change in Zacchaeus. Jesus didn’t stand beneath the tree wagging his finger at Zacchaeus, telling him that he must change.
His treatment of the tax collector was the opposite of the attitude of the crowd who grumbled “He has gone to the house of a sinner as a guest.” The response of Zacchaeus was beyond what was expected. He was willing to give all.
The name Zacchaeus comes from the Hebrew and means “the pure one”. As Fr Lane writes: “Before reforming his life and meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus was the pure one only in name but not in deed. After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus was the pure one both in name and deed.”