Zacchaeus Transformed

Luke 19: 1-10
2 Mc 6:18-31 / Psa 3

Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
(Luke 19:10)

Don’t let pass the opportunity
When Jesus comes to pass your way;
If short of stature, climb a tree,
A small price for dignity to pay.

Jesus was passing through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem. Now, Zacchaeus, a very wealthy chief tax collector wanted to see Him, but being of short stature he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Him, as Jesus was passing that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will repay back four times over.” Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)


Like the blind man in yesterday’s Gospel, Zacchaeus also had a handicap (he was short) and he also desperately wanted to see Jesus. And like the blind man who raised his voice to get Jesus’ attention, Zacchaeus also succeeded to meet Jesus, albeit unintentionally, by climbing a tree. One was a beggar, and the other a wealthy tax collector. They were both outcasts of society, but just as determined to change their status in life, and for their perseverance, both were transformed. We can also see a number of lessons in this story.

First of all, like Jesus, we must see others not for what they are, but for what they can become. Our Lord never regarded anyone as a hopeless sinner who was beyond redemption. We must never allow bias or prejudice to influence our quest to bring others to Christ. Who is a good prospect to invite to our breakfast meetings, bible studies, or cenacle prayers? Are we afraid to get a negative response? Are we afraid that he or she “might not fit in with the group?” A true disciple never hesitates. He invites everyone, and “anything that moves.”

Secondly, love and acceptance can change most people. In all His encounters, Jesus was always open and caring, and so must we. We may fail to make a Christian example by being too concerned about the superficial rather than the essential. Our Lord showed love and acceptance to the hated, squat Zacchaeus, and a great transformation happened. This also happened to many of the inmates at the Davao Detention Center, who were converted to a new life because a community of renewed Christians sacrificed thirteen Sundays away from their families to hold a Christian Life Program for them.

Finally, our Lord shows us that our mission must be active, not passive. Jesus did not wait for people to come to him; He actively sought out the lost in order to save them. He did not wait for an invitation; He invited Himself in (“I must stay at your house today”). The Holy Spirit gives us insights into people so that we might be bold to help them. By His grace we are able to see a soul that needs salvation. That is why we can set aside social “niceties” to get into the essential purpose of the encounter.

Lord God, help us to be bold in proclaiming Your Good News of salvation to others. Take away our prejudices against their perceived sinfulness, so that more of our friends, associates and even enemies may come to know of Jesus’ love. Amen.

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