By Fr. Thiago, sx
Today’s Gospel tells us that the Lord Jesus went into a city called Jericho. In this city there was a man named Zacchaeus, whose meaning is: God remembers. The evangelist Luke gives us various information about this person. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and a rich man. His position caused him to be hated by the people who considered him a collaborator of the Romans. The Gospel adds another characteristic of Zacchaeus, saying that he was a man of short stature. Among all the information, that the Gospel offers us about this person, stands out his desire to see the Lord Jesus.
Since a great crowd had gathered around the Lord, Zacchaeus was unable to see Jesus. Facing this obstacle, Zacchaeus didn´t give up, but his desire helped him to act with creativity and courage: “So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus…” Finally, when the Lord came to that place, he looked up at Zacchaeus and told him: “Hurry down, because I must stay in your house today.”
Zacchaeus was trying to see Jesus, instead, Jesus was the one who looked at him and invited him to come down. Zacchaeus, who was used to seeing people looking at him with eyes of hatred and hostility, in that moment – in that blessed moment – he experienced a look of love and mercy; he experienced the tenderness of God´s eyes. The Lord Jesus didn´t look down on Zacchaeus, but, as the Gospel says, Jesus looked up on him, as the one who lowered himself to reach us, to stretch out his hands and to save us.
If the Lord Jesus had said to Zacchaeus: “Give back what you stole and I will come into your house” or “Come down quickly and let us go to the synagogue,” perhaps the skeleton of Zacchaeus would still be up on the top of that tree. Jesus, on the contrary, invited Zacchaeus to go into his house, which means in his heart, and to welcome Jesus there – in the heart, which is the place of our decisions and sincere answers. Zacchaeus did that and his life was transformed, and in his life joy arouse.
The spiritual journey of Zacchaeus tells a lot about ours as well. The Lord is continuously looking at us with love and inviting us to come down from our fears and excuses in order to welcome him in our life. The only thing we should do is to open our house, our heart to the Lord; all the rest will be the result of this lovely and deep experience, which urges us to establish relations of friendship and compassion with our brothers and sisters.
From the writings of Saint Guido
“This article of our faith (I believe in God the Father) reminds us above all that our God is a God of love and consolation, a God who makes us feel our inner wretchedness and His infinite mercy, who unites Himself to us from the bottom of our heart and fills it with humility, joy, trust and love; He tells our heart that He alone is its sole good and refuge and that it shall not know peace and true joy unless through loving Him.”
(1918, 1 November, Parma – Cathedral)