Gospel (Lk 19:1-10)
At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
We can imagine Jesus reaching his hand up to call Zacchaeus down from the tree. How excited he must have been! He hasn’t spoken a word, yet Jesus has recognized him. Everyone else rejects Zacchaeus but Jesus wants to spend time with him, share a meal with him and stay with him. In response to Jesus’ invitation and time spent with Jesus, Zacchaeus’ life is completely changed. He turns from needing to take from others to wanting to give away his wealth and pay back four times as much as he owes to anyone he’s cheated.
The power of God’s love is absolutely amazing! As children of God, it is there for every one of us. Though others may isolate us or call us names, Jesus loves us. Though we may fail to love others as we should, Jesus loves us. We tend to believe what Franciscan priest Richard Rohr calls the performance principle–that IF we change, God will love us. In fact, as is so often the case with God, it’s the other way around from what we think. God loves us and so we can change. God loves and so we can follow the teachings of Jesus.
Perhaps this weekend, when it’s time to get ready for church we can imagine ourselves to be like Zacchaeus, anxious to see Jesus, hoping to hear what he has to say. When we get there, Jesus will see us and know that we want so much to be with him. Then, in the readings, Jesus speaks to us and, in the Eucharist, he shares a meal and indeed his very self with us.
Jesus invites himself into our hearts, it’s where he wants to stay and it’s where he lets us know that he loves us. Filled with love for and from Him, we leave Church excited to know Jesus and looking for ways to share God’s incredible love with others.