Last week, Jesus told his disciples a parable about a tax collector who repented of his sins. In today’s Gospel, it happens for real. As a senior tax collector in Jericho, Zacchaeus would be a wealthy man, but probably not popular with his fellow Jews.
Zacchaeus was so anxious to see Jesus that he set aside his dignity and climbed a tree to get a better view. And as soon as Jesus saw Zacchaeus, he called him to become a disciple and asked him for hospitality. In the same way that he impulsively climbed the tree, Zacchaeus responded impulsively to Jesus’ call. He promised to change his life, to give generously to the poor and to give back any money that he had obtained by fraud. We may wonder whether Zacchaeus really followed through on his bold promises. But he shows us an example of an immediate and generous response to the Lord’s call. Jesus obviously made a big impression on Zacchaeus.
But not everyone was happy. Some complained that Jesus had ‘gone to stay at a sinner’s house.’ Perhaps they knew Zacchaeus and his reputation.
This Gospel shows us two possible responses to Jesus. Zacchaeus was so moved by meeting Jesus that he decided at once to change his whole life. Others could only complain and find fault. As long as we are busy complaining about the sins of others, we will never be ready to meet the Lord and be converted and saved.