Oct. 30, 2016 - 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. He collected taxes for the Roman Empire. But he was Jewish and collected those taxes from Jewish people.
He had to collect enough to pay all the taxes the Jewish people owed to the Roman Governor, but he had to collect his salary as well.
For this, his people considered him a traitor. So this made him an outcast, an outsider, one who had a difficult time belonging. So, the wealth he earned came at a great price. It must have been lonely always being on the outside.
Those who have trouble fitting in with the crowd know what it means to be on the outside. There is a yearning to be a part of something, but it never happens.
Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and the mighty deeds and miracles he had been performing. He had heard that Jesus was changing people’s lives, giving them reason to hope again.
This must have sparked some interior desire within Zacchaeus. Maybe he could make a fresh start. Maybe he could be given a reason to hope again, a place to belong again.
Isn’t that what he wanted? Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus because Zacchaeus was ready for a change. Jesus was offering something worth more than Zacchaeus’ wealth. Jesus was offering hope. Jesus was offering belonging.
When Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ home, Zacchaeus didn’t hesitate. He sprung into action to offer hospitality. He received Jesus with great joy.
But when the Jewish people saw this, they grumbled. Jesus had gone to dine with that traitor.
But Zacchaeus had found what he was looking for, so he stood his ground. He promised Jesus that he would make restitution for any ill-gotten wealth. His encounter with Jesus transforms him.
The Book of Wisdom gives us some insight into why this transformation takes place. The Book of Wisdom tells us that the Lord has mercy. The Book of Wisdom tells us that the Lord Jesus overlooks sin.
The Lord Jesus loves all creation, and so the Lord Jesus is a lover of souls. Because Jesus is a lover of souls, Jesus has the power to transform those souls. Love has the power to overcome sin.
The Lord Jesus loves Zacchaeus. The Lord Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home. The Lord Jesus invites himself into Zacchaeus’ life.
The Lord Jesus loves us. The Lord Jesus invites himself into our homes. The Lord Jesus invites himself into our lives.
The Lord Jesus seeks us at the very time we are most lost.
The Lord Jesus calls to us at the very time we feel most alone.
The Lord Jesus forgives us at the very time we are most trapped in sin.
The Lord Jesus loves us with a fierce tenderness that can transform us.
We come here to this Holy Shrine week after week just like Zacchaeus, in order to see Jesus.
And week after week Jesus says to you and to me, “Today I must stay at your house.”