Today’s Gospel can teach us something from three very different perspectives.
Zacchaeus had made it he was a tax collector.
The Romans trusted him.
He was wealthy influential and because they hoped to pay less taxes people probably deferred to him.
They probably respected him to his face and sneared at his back
It appeared he had everything a man could want..
Yet it was not enough.
His life must have not been satisfying.
Maybe he knew what people really thought of him.
Maybe he knew just how much people hated him
How despised he was.
Why else wouldn’t the crowd give him a place in the front row so that he could see?
And if his money had given him all the comfort people think it gives
He would have stayed home that day
Stayed home in the lap of luxury with all of his creature comforts.
Zacchaeus probably ventured out that day into that crowd
because he was not satisfied he was not happy.
All that glittered was not gold.
There must have been a void in his heart that had to be filled.
He had heard about Jesus
He had heard of all the incredible stories that surrounded this itinerant rabbi
And he wanted to see for himself.
And after Jesus stopped and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house
Zacchaeus showed just how little all of his wealth meant to him.
He gave a sizeable portion away and he tried
to amend any injustice he has done.
Salvation had entered his house that day indeed
Because Zacchaeus had finally figured out what really mattered
His heart was changed
Let’s look at this situation through the eyes of Jesus
If we read the Gospel account carefully it seems that Jesus did not intent to stop in Jericho that day.
But then he noticed that short little man being pushed aside in the crowd
And to his amazement he saw that little man in a tree.
Zacchaeus had made the first move.
Zacchaeus had made a significant effort to reach out to Jesus.
And Jesus would not be out done in his generosity.
He did not give up on this Tax Collector
He did not give up on this man who had made so many terrible mistakes in his life
He knew there was more to this little man than meets the eye.
Jesus saw an open window into Zacchaeus’ heart
Jesus saw A way in.
A way to help Zacchaeus begin anew
And he took it.
He invited himself in
And Salvation entered Zacchaeus’ house that day
It was a moment of grace
Zacchaeus wanted more out of life
and Jesus was so ready to give him what he wanted
For the Gospel says
Zacchaeus received Jesus with joy
There are third group of characters in this little drama.
The people watching the exchange between Jesus and Zacchaeus
Were not happy.
They had seen Zacchaeus in action so many times and were very skeptical
They could not believe that this conversion was real.
They had long since given up on Zacchaeus
They did not believe there was any hope for him
He was a tax collector and a greedy avarice tax collector and that is what he would always be
You know if they really cared about Zacchaeus
when they saw that this big sinner was interested in seeing Jesus.
The would have pushed him to the front of the crowd in the hope
that he would have a change of heart.
But they didn’t did they?
What does this all have to do with us…
Have we figured out what really matters
or are we still trying to accumulate treasure on earth.
Do we have thoughts like...
If I had that I would really be happy.
If I had that much in my bank account I would have it made.
When Zacchaeus was thoughtful enough
to realize that material wealth respect and influence were not all they were cracked up to be he was brave enough to try something new..
Are we brave enough to try something new ?
If our life is not all that we would like it to be
are we brave enough to venture into uncharted waters ?
Will we fight the crowd or climb a tree?
Or are we just plain stuck?
Unhappy where we are but... unable or afraid to move,
Have we reached out to Jesus ?
Have we really given prayer a chance ?
Have we tried to deepen our faith to understand more ?
How committed are we to our faith ?
When is the last time we read a spiritual book ?
When is the last time that we engaged someone in a serious conversation on a spiritual topic.
When is the last time we went to Mass more than once a week and last week doesn’t count because Thursday was a holy day.
The experience of Zacchaeus teaches us that if we reach out to Christ
He will invite himself into our homes and into our hearts.
Have we even taken the first step ?
Have we ever responded to the daily prompting of the spirit to go deeper ?
Has salvation entered our house or have we closed up all the doors and windows and refused to let him in?
The crowd refused to give Zacchaeus another chance.
They refused to believe that he could be anything better than a tax collector
They had placed him in that neat comfortable box
and refused to see any hope for him
He was what he was period.
Only Jesus was ready to give him another chance and another chance and another chance.
How many people have we give up on ?
How many people have we placed in little boxes neat little catagories or labeled ?
How often have we said things like...
That kid is a looser
Why would anyone want to have anything to do with him ?
He is a tax collector or he drinks or he is rude or he will never amount to anything
Or he is a sinner and he will never change.
The fact of the matter is that everyone can change until our last breath we can change.
This little story about he tax collector who climbed a tree teaches us so much
Let us place our faith in what really matters in life.
Let us continually try to leave a little opening in our hearts for God to come in.
Let us fight the temptation to make definitive judgments about people
refusing to believe that they could ever change.
God doesn’t do that and neither should we