For Sunday, October 30th, 2022
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.”
Zacchaeus lived in Jericho, a city located northeast of Jerusalem in modern-day Palestine. As the chief tax collector, he was a wealthy man who was the head of other tax collectors in his district. Unfortunately for him, tax collectors had a “bad rep” in those days. The Jews saw them as traitors to their people because they worked for the Roman occupiers. They also had the reputation of cheating people and over-taxing them for the sake of personal financial gain. Despite his bad reputation, Zacchaeus actively sought to find the Lord.
When Jesus passed through Jericho, a large crowd began to form around him. Zacchaeus could not see because he was “short in stature,” so he climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus. According to one source, these trees can grow up to 130 feet high and 6 feet wide.1 Here, the irony is that Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus with great effort only to learn that Jesus was already seeking to see him. Our Lord told him, “[C]ome down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And Zacchaeus obeyed the word of the Lord and received him with great joy.
Some people did not like the fact that our Lord wanted to stay with Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector. In the minds of many of them, being a tax collector was synonymous with being a sinner. But Zaccheaus realized the great treasure he had found in Jesus and he was willing to do whatever it took to be in right relationship with him. That is why he said, “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.” In doing this, he was justly imposing a serious penalty for restitution on himself (see Exodus 22:1; CCC 2412).
In your time of silent prayer today, put yourself in the place of Zacchaeus. He was hindered from seeing God because he was short. What hinders you from seeing God? He tried to overcome this impediment. How do you strive to overcome the things that impede your relationship with God? As you end your prayer, remember that even before Zacchaeus climbed the tree, Jesus was coming toward him. God takes the first step – He’s doing so for you, right now – and inspires faith. Today, praise God for inspiring your faith and seeking you out.
Is it time for your Exodus? Learn more here.
1 “Sycamore Tree in Ancient Israel: Explore Traveler.” EXPLORE TRAVELER, 26 May 2022, https://exploretraveler.com/sycamore-tree-in-ancient-israel/.
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