Daily Reflection – 11/19/19
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)
Instead of pushing his way through and demanding his rightful place on the street, Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree to get a better view. The sight of a wealthy, powerful, and decidedly short man struggling to pull himself up into a tree must have been quite a sight. This never fails to make me smile, at least a little bit, and it probably made those who noticed it smile at the time, too.
But what happens with this good humor? Jesus sees Zacchaeus in the tree and greets him with love and at that point, Zacchaeus confesses his sins publicly and pledges to repent and redeem himself — because Jesus has chosen to come to his house.
The Lord does not overlook our sins because we repent; we can only repent because God gives us the grace to recognize our sins and the ability to repent of them. If we do not welcome the Lord into our houses, then we do cannot see clearly enough to recognize our sinfulness, nor understand that He strengthens us for repentance, and not the other way around.
To put it simply: God does not love us because we repent, or when we repent. God loves us, and so gives us the grace to repent — endlessly.
We all suffer from sin, from self-haughtiness and the blind illusion of self-sufficiency. We think we can live without the Lord and make our own way, but then we lose sight of our sins and the damage we cause to ourselves and others. The longer this goes, the less able we become to break out of that pattern. Only when we discard that false sense of pride and come to Christ like a child who would climb a tree in order to just get a passing glimpse of the Lord can we be open to His invitation.
And maybe — just maybe — the first step along that way is to laugh a little, mostly at ourselves and our own pretensions.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, come and stay with me. Fill my life with your peace, my home with your presence, and my heart with your praise. Help me to show kindness, mercy and goodness to all.
Zacchaeus could have easily stayed among the crowd but he chose to go, quite literally, above and beyond. He got out of his comfort zone for Christ and was rewarded with the gift of purity of heart.
How often do we go out of our comfort zone for Jesus? It’s easy to serve him on our terms, but he wants us to serve him on his terms. This make us (me) uncomfortable, but it must be done. For it sets us on the road to repentance and purity.
We don’t know for sure but some in the early Church, like Clement of Alexandria, taught that Zacchaeus was named Matthias by the apostles, and that Zacchaeus—Matthias—was the one who took Judas’ place among the apostles after Judas betrayed Jesus and killed himself.