The story of Zacchaeus is familiar to many who received their First Communion in the 1980s and 1990s. However, about 15 years ago the story was replaced by the story of the Lost Sheep. Thankfully the story of Zacchaeus has once again been returned to the schools’ religion programme as the best illustration of forgiveness in preparation for the children’s First penance.
Something had stirred Zacchaeus to come and get a glimpse of Jesus. We are told that because he was ‘short’ he couldn’t see him so he climbed the sycamore tree to get a better look. It’s while he is up there that Jesus sees him and calls him down, declaring that ‘I must stay at your house today’. The others in the crowd were not impressed that Jesus had chosen to go and stay at the home of a ‘sinner’. Through this simple encounter Zacchaeus is moved to change his lifestyle and he immediately admits that he has not always been honest in his dealings with others but he vows to make restitution to those he has cheated out of their money. He didn’t do this to gain Jesus approval, but rather to show gratitude for the new direction in life that he had gained.
Jesus loved Zacchaeus – a sinner, and by that love Zacchaeus’s life was transformed. May each one of us be transformed by opening our hearts and minds to his salvation in our lives.
As the last line of today’s gospel proclaims ‘For the son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost’.