He was a man of small stature, but of
huge economic resources. Despite his money, possessions and work status, he was
not happy with himself. As he hung from
a limb of a tree and peered down at “Someone” that passed by he heard his name
called, “Zacchaeus, come down because I want to come to your home this very
night.” This unique encounter would radically change his life in time and for
all eternity. First read this Biblical
passage two or three times slowly, pray over it, then beg the Holy Spirit to allow this
providential encounter between Zacchaeus and Jesus to change your life. In some
way or another this encounter is meant for you right now! The passage can be found in the Gospel of St.
He 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 to him,
“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.”
Following are a few further reflections to
help you in your meditation!
Zacchaeus. He had material
success and lots of money because he was
a tax collector in a very rich city—that of Jericho. However, he was not happy.
On the contrary he was sad! The Beatles
have a very famous song of the 60s “Money can’t buy me love.” This is not a Gospel song, but it is very
true! If we were to ask anybody if they want to be happy, the obvious response
would be “Of course!” Why then are so many people sad, depressed, going to
professionals, taking pills to fight against depression? The reason is very clear: they are looking
for happiness in the wrong place! The
famous book and movie the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens says it all.
Scrooge was never happy with his money. He found true happiness when he learned
that true joy comes in giving to others, especially to the poor and
handicapped! St. Paul puts it concisely: “There is more joy in giving than in
receiving.” Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
reiterates the same message: “Give until it hurts.”
DETERMINED DETERMINATION TO SEE
JESUS! Zacchaeus was a Tax collector
(Publican) and not liked by all. As Jesus passed by he wanted to see Jesus, but
could not because he was small of stature. Maybe he was pushed, nudged and
ended up black and blue with bruises. But he did not give up. Exceedingly
creative, he decided to climb a tree so that he could at least get a glimpse of
Jesus as He walked by! Another example of this perseverance and determination
is the example of the four men that carried the paralytic on a mat. They could
not get into the home where Jesus was. Not giving up, using extreme creativity,
they decided to climb the roof, cut a hole in the roof and lower the man down.
We all know the end of the story. Jesus healed the paralytic because of the determination
and perseverance of the four friends! What are we willing to do to meet Jesus?
People will travel hundreds of miles for sports events, to see the beauty of
nature, to meet persons they love. What are we willing to do to meet
Jesus? What is interesting and at the
same time very sad is that Jesus is not far away. Actually, Jesus is present in
every Catholic Church throughout the world. Furthermore, every Mass that is
celebrated throughout the world Jesus is present. Why not make an effort to live
out the Our Father, “Give us this day our daily bread” and receive the Bread of
life if possible even on a daily basis? You will never regret it!
ZACCHAEUS AND TRUE REPENTANCE. An authentic sign of repentance is not
simply paying lip-service. As the saying goes, “words are cheap!” Our words have to be supported by concrete
actions. Zacchaeus showed this most clearly.
As the people were criticizing the little man, he held his ground and
said that he would give half of his money to the poor. Still more he said that
if he had defrauded anybody then he would give four times as much. REPARATION/RESTITUTION. This concrete gesture
of Zacchaeus, is called reparation. When we do damage to another person either
physically, emotionally, or spiritually then in justice we have the obligation
to restore or repair the damage we have done. Reparation, the little man did
and way beyond what was required.
JESUS REJOICES! Jesus came to save the sinner. The greatest
attribute in the Sacred Heart of Jesus is His mercy. He came to seek out the
lost sheep. He is truly the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son. His arms are open for you right now.
JOY IN TWO WAYS. The film “The Greatest Miracle” gives us the
secret of true joy: forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession and encountering
Jesus in the Mass. The three persons in this movie were sad because they were
looking for happiness in the wrong place. They finally found true joy in the
Church, led by their Guardian angels. In the church two sacraments were being
celebrated: Confession (with the devils tempting many not to confess or to
confess poorly); and then the Mass in which the culminating point is found in the
most Holy Eucharist. The three went away
happy because they met Jesus in His mercy and in His love. Why not today
encounter Jesus in His infinite mercy and then open up your home, your heart,
to receive Jesus with great joy and great love in Holy Communion. Live out what Saint Paul teaches us: “Rejoice
in the Lord; I say it again: rejoice in the Lord!” (Phil 4:4). Then share this
joy of encountering Jesus with the entire world.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus
started out like Zacchaeus and like many people sad and depressed. However,
their sadness was transformed into joy by a providential encounter with Jesus.
The Lord Jesus walked with them, listened to them, and talked to them. Then He
sat down at table and broke bread with them. Their eyes were opened and they
recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread and filled with joy returned to
tell the good news to the Apostles. “Did not our hearts burn within us as He
explained the Word to us and in the breaking of the bread?”