4 November 2007 Luke 19:1-10
Jesus and the tax collector
Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man.
He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd; so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today.' And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully.
They all complained when they saw what was happening. 'He has gone to stay at a sinner's house,' they said.
But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, 'Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.'
And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost.'
In this story of Jesus encounter with Zacchaeus,a tax collector,our Lord is trying to stress on the virtues of forgiveness and humility. Zacchaeus was a sinner in the eyes of the people at large but still Jesus went down to him. That act of humility converted Zacchaeus to become a better person. One virtue of humility led to another, forgiveness.
This story of Jesus is very relevant to us even today. Many of may be well off in society but often we avoid those who sin for fear of being branded as bad. We also avoid mixing with the less the fortunate and marginalized.
We are afraid to allow our children to mingle with those from poor families and bad for fear of getting spoilt.We is very selective with whom they mix.
These actions of ours are definitely against the basic teachings of Jesus, who despite being the lord ,master and teacher, showed by example to go down to the sinner and marginalized in society. He was not afraid of what the people thought of him.
Similarly, we too should go down to those despised and marginalized. Only by our humility and forgiveness we can “covert” them to better humans. When Jesus, who is our God and Master can go down to the sinner, why can’t we mere humans, who are also sinners. We expect Jesus to forgive us sinners, but we as sinners ourselves are not willing to forgive those who sin against us. What hypocrites we are!