30th Sunday in Ordinary time
2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2
The story of Zacchaeus is very popular with children, perhaps because like them, he was short. But this story should be just as popular with adults.
As the chief tax collector of Jericho, Zacchaeus would have been very wealthy. Cities were required to provide a taxation levy to Rome each year. The chief tax collector was responsible for paying that tax, so he could collect taxes from the people at a rate he set. In Jericho, Zacchaeus would have engaged agents to collect the tax. For this service they received a payment from him and whatever money he collected over and above the payments to his agents and to Rome, was his profit.
Tax collectors were regarded as public sinners; unclean before God. So the cost of Zacchaeus’ wealth would have been a life of loneliness, unable to mix with his own people, and officially cut off from God
Because he was small, he climbed a tree and waited there. This was something children do; not wealthy adults!
As the crowd walked through Jericho, Zacchaeus was spotted up in the tree. Jesus did not embarrass him by asking why was he there, but he called him by his name and asked him to come down immediately so that “I can visit your house”.
Like the elder brother in Luke’s prodigal son story, the admiring crowd suddenly changes. They resent Jesus’ generous action and acceptance of Zaccaheus.
Zacchaeus was immediately humble and appreciative. In full view of everybody, he made a public confession and his offer of repayment was immediate. Half of what he owned will be given to the poor; and those he has defrauded, he will repay, four times what they are owed.
What a conversion! It was brought about because he was accepted! Jesus said salvation has come to this house today!
How can I be accepting today? Who might I save today!.
Brian Traynor CP has been involved in faith formation for many years especially in the form of parish missions and through the Passionist Family Group Movement. Brian is a member of the Passionist community at Holy Cross, Templestowe.