THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2016
Today’s gospel: Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus was considered a great sinner by the Jews, such
that when Jesus said he would stay at his house, “they
began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to stay at the
house of a sinner.’” (v.7). Zacchaeus was “a
chief tax collector and also a wealthy man” (v. 2).
Tax collectors were despised because they collected taxes
for the Romans, the enemies of the Jews, and added on to the
taxes to be collected for their own pockets. They were thus
considered thieves and traitors, and of course, sinners.
Jesus was merciful to him. Why? For one thing, “because
this man too is a descendant of Abraham.” (v.9b). God
is merciful to all. Why? Because we are all His children.
God desires to gather His children back to Himself. That is
why He loves sinners and saints alike. No one is outside the
scope of the mercy of God.
Jesus came precisely “to seek and to save what was lost.”
(v.10). Jesus suffered a horrible death and gave his very
life in order that all might be saved. The icon of mercy is
the crucifix. God took the initiative, and Jesus gave his
life for us, even when we were sinners, and in fact, the ones
who sent him to the cross. Perhaps Zacchaeus never dared to
approach Jesus, perhaps he never imagined he could be forgiven
his sins, but it was Jesus who reached out to him, as he “looked
up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for
today I must stay at your house.’” (v.5).
we know about the abounding mercy of God, but we also must
know that in every sinner is a soul that longs for God. Zacchaeus
“was seeking to see who Jesus was” (v.3a). The
sinner might be caught in a rut, might be unable to extricate
himself for his serious wrongdoing, might not have hope of
ever leaving his life of sin. Zacchaeus “could not see
him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.”
(v.3b). The sinner knows he falls short of God’s way
of life, and even in a nudging of conscience to amend his
life, might be gripped by the world and continue to be lost
in the crowd.
the mercy of God is beyond earthly value. Wealth, power and
position had been important for Zacchaeus. But now, in response
to God’s mercy, he offers to give half of his possessions
to the poor and to repay four times over anyone from whom
he had extorted anything (v.8). We need to respond to God’s
mercy. We need to repent of sin and amend our lives. We need
to live no longer for ourselves or for what the world offers,
but only for God.
us look to God’s mercy. Let us do what we need to do
in order to have a true encounter with Jesus. If we need to
do something drastic or unusual like climbing a sycamore tree
(v.4), let us do so. If we need to leave our earthly preoccupations
in order to encounter Jesus, let us do so. If we need to rectify
wrongs done and let go of material attachments, let us do
so. Then we will experience God’s mercy. Then Jesus
will say to us, “Today salvation has come to this house”
he came down quickly and received him with joy.” (v.6).