Year C: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Luke 19: 1-10
Jesus had an uncanny knack of noticing things - especially people. Zacchaeus is another of those people on the fringes of society. He is a tax collector and wealthy - probably as a result of his tax collecting activities. Like so many people, he had heard about Jesus and wanted to see what kind of person he was - but, being short, had to climb a tree to see Him.
Surrounded by crowds of people, it would have been easy for Jesus to miss Zacchaeus - and it may be that Zacchaeus wanted to see but not be seen. But Jesus spots him and, it seems, sees something about Zacchaeus that even Zacchaeus did not recognise in himself. Jesus invites Himself to supper.
For Zacchaeus, this must have been like a bolt from the blue: this famous man coming to his house - choosing to come to his house. People would have given their eye-teeth for such an opportunity - and here was he - a small tax-collector sitting in a tree - being told that it was his house that had been chosen for the honour of treating Jesus to tea!
And, of course, those people were very quick to complain. Yet again, Jesus has not chosen those who “deserved” to have Him in their homes - but chosen a tax collector - and a senior one at that!
But something has happened to this senior tax-collector. Being noticed by such a man as Jesus - being given the honour of providing hospitality has opened up a space in his heart. He sees himself as Jesus sees him - as a man capable of hospitality and generosity - and responds in kind.
He hears people criticising Jesus’ choice of host and, we are told, stands his ground. He knows his reputation - and decides that it is time to make a clean sweep. Jesus has recognised his hidden generosity - and Zacchaeus makes it real by giving half his possessions to the poor. Jesus has shown His trust in Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus responds by promising repayment for any cheating in his past - with the implied promise of more honest dealings in the future.
And Jesus sees that His actions have had a wonderful effect - transforming yet another life. We don’t meet Zacchaeus again in the Gospel - but we can be sure that this encounter with Jesus had a lasting effect on his life - an effect that those who recorded Jesus’ life knew was worth including.
What does it mean for me?
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