Today in Luke 19, we hear the special story about Zacchaeus being restored. Traditionally, we hear about this man’s size and how he must climb a tree to see Jesus pass by from above the large crowd. Have you ever considered the spiritual interpretations offered by our Church Fathers like St. Ambrose? He saw several parallels like Zacchaeus being short is indicative of his being short on faith and virtue. He also understood Zacchaeus climbing the tree to mean that no one attached to earthly matters can truly see Jesus. And last, that our Lord intended to pass that way, which reveals that Christ will approach anyone who is willing to repent and believe. We know Zacchaeus was a tax collector and took extra money for himself. He lived richly by deceiving his peers. He then repents of his sins, freely gives & restores back to those he cheated.
Do you have moments where you realize you’ve hurt others and wish to bring about change and healing? Showing love for others also shows what else?
Zacchaeus was a Jew and a tax collector for the Roman state, who occupied this region and practiced oppressive taxation during Jesus’ time. He is despised by his own people and probably not even very religious, since the religious custom of his time would not have allowed him to enter the Synagogue or Temple. However, he is interested in Jesus, and we can deduce from his actions that faith is stirring inside him. From his response to hearing that Jesus is passing through Jericho to climbing a tree, he risks ridicule in order to encounter Christ. Jesus also seeks him, and this is reminiscent of Old Testament prophesies where God comes to regather the lost sheep of Israel. In a way, he very well could be the lost sheep from Luke 15 where Jesus is describing this scenario to the tax collectors and sinners!
Because of Zacchaeus’ faith and efforts and God’s grace, he experiences a radical transformation. The cause of this is the love of God working through Christ, where Christ’s personal presence and divine love touch Zacchaeus and completely change him. God’s love flowing through Christ transformed him into a new, free and joyful man. This same love and grace can liberate any person, giving abundant life in Christ. All it takes is the desire, decision and devotion toward seeking the person of Christ. That is our part in this miracle story, and by God’s grace we can continue to experience this miracle of living faith and new life. What has your own transformation experience looked like, and how does Christ’s love impact you through this story or experiences in life?