This Sunday February 14, 2021 is called the Sunday of Zacchaeus from the Gospel of Luke chapter 19:1-10. Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the hated Roman State which practiced oppressive taxation during the times of Jesus.
In those days, Zacchaeus, the tax collector, was despised and regarded by his fellow Jews as a great sinner, a man completely given over to worldly values, devoid of faith and love. He was a man who embodied the harsh realities of the world, ruthlessly competing for wealth, exploiting the people at every opportunity, consumed by his own pursuit of self-interest and material wealth. The faith of his ancestors meant nothing to him, no religion was of interest to him except that of a ruthless, cold ambition and desire for money. Never did it enter into his mind to go to the Temple to pray; and if he did, he would not be allowed to enter.
However, as the story goes, Zacchaeus was interested in Jesus. It was not mere curiosity but rather the first signs of faith that made him risk embarrassment by climbing up a tree in order to see Jesus pass as He made his way through Jericho. It is precisely because of that faith, that God on that day brought about a wonderful change in Zacchaeus, an astonishing liberation from his old self and ways.
It was the love of God working through Christ that brought about this radical transformation of his life. Christ through his personal presence and divine love touched Zacchaeus and completely changed him.
The conversion power of God’s love flowing through Christ transformed Zacchaeus into a new free and joyful man, who welcomed Jesus into his own home, saying to Jesus after rethinking his past life, “I will give half my belongings to the poor”, a telltale sign of Christ’s abundant life which encourages us now that we are free from our former ways, to share with others and thereby help us grow spiritually. This is the meaning of this gospel lesson. Whether one comes to Christ in a dramatic way as did Zacchaeus or in a more gradual way as many of us do, these are all steps for our own true spiritual growth in Christ Jesus.
For God’s whole purpose in sending Christ to us was to give us abundant life, full life. Jesus said once, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness” (John 10:10).
Let us give thanks and partake of this abundant life that was given to us!