31st Sunday Year C 2019

Zacchaeus: Giant of Transformation and Compensation

(Lk. 19: 1-10)

By Fr. Peter Madros


This man Zacchaeus, small in stature, brought a smile to people in Jericho: his name, which means “the pure”, did not in any way correspond to his swindling practices as a “collaborator” of the Roman occupant! People got upset when they encountered him. Definitely, he was going to dip his hands into their pockets, a very unpleasant thing.

He got word that Jesus of Nazareth was about to visit in his town. The Galilean Healer opened – or will open – the eyes of two blind persons in this Canaanite town known as Yerikho, formerly dedicated to the deified Moon, and more recently had the visit of two spies and conquered by Joshua son of Nun.

Jesus is the conqueror by excellence. His weekness, his humility and his miracles seize the hearts in salutary captivity. His charm is irresistible; particularly that he does not scorn the small people.  The stone heart of Zacchaeus, hardened by financial calculations, is now shattered. This dwarf turns into hte giant of transformation: he who was blinded by the bait of gains found his eyes opened by Jesus who he saw from the top of the sycamore tree. Zacchaeus announced that he was prepared to give – not only to lend – “one half of my goods I give to the poor”. He took a step towards justice since he had contributed to a “legal” impoverishment of many families! In a comprehensive and expeditious examination of conscience he promised aloud to “repay fourfold” to people he had extorted. In the city of the Moon, he saw “the Sun of justice”. Small in stature, he became big in generosity!

Like the tax collector of the parable (cf. Lk. 18:13), he was vindicated not only through the justice that he practiced at last, but also and foremost by the grace of Christ and by humility and repentance. The tax collector had gone to the Temple. Here, “the one who is much greater than the Temple” came to Zacchaeus, making of him and his house a sanctuary. Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, who shall cleanse the Temple from the merchants, had “cleansed” Zacchaeus by making him pure, not stone-hard. The Savior – whose name Jesus means “God save” had saved a notorious inhabitant of the city of Joshua. Without weapons, without money, without violence, the Redeemer had conquered sin and rehabilitated the sinners; Christ the Fisherman fishes with the hook of mercy!

To gain the salvation, are we prepared to give and to amend?


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