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."
Like last Sunday's Gospel reading, today's Gospel once again centers on the actions of a tax collector. And like last week, we once again witness God's grace and blessings through the redemption of sin in his infinite mercy.
As a tax collector, Zacchaeus is publicly despised for collaborating with the Roman ruling elite and for extorting money from the people. However, his encounter with Christ led him to a path of conversion and repentance, as demonstrated by his actions such as sharing his wealth with the poor and his desire to over-recompense those he has defrauded in the past.
In the eyes of Jesus and those around him, Zacchaeus was a sinner. However, Jesus does not stop there. He looks beyond those sins and imperfections deep into the heart of Zacchaeus, seeing him as a child of God. By offering to visit his home, Jesus enters his heart and ignites the flame of conversion as only He can.
No matter how little or sinful we are, God always sees us. Not only does he see us, but he sees us with eyes of love and mercy. Emboldened by this knowledge, we are free to reconcile ourselves to him when we fall.
As the famous saying goes: Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall. Together, let us turn back to Him who is "the way the truth and the life" (John 14:6) and clasp his outstretched hand.
When was the last time you went to confession? Let us put on "the new man" (Eph 4:24) and "be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2). Let us receive the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation, which is God's special gift for us.
With the exception of the first half of this article, which is summarized from the Catechist Manual for Catechumenate, Foundations in Faith, RCL, Allen, Texas, 1998; this reflection is written by the FLL Inspire editorial team.