Thought For Today is by Jane Mellett called 'Zacchaeus'
In today's Gospel we hear the familiar story of Zacchaeus. It is a story that may remind us of our childhood, our first confession, or, as in my case, it might bring a school song to mind that you can't get out of your head! As with all familiar Gospel stories, we are invited to read again with fresh eyes and hear again as if for the first time. For this story is very rich and we risk losing the meaning due to our familiarity with it.
Like many people today, Zacchaeus was a 'seeker.' We read that he was anxious to see what Jesus was like. Clearly, he was drawn to Jesus in some way, was searching for something or someone. Zacchaeus was an outcast, a tax collector, considered a sinner by the community. Yet Jesus reaches out to him in a gesture of hospitality and friendship. In return, Zacchaeus offers the strictest requirement, as noted in the Jewish scriptures, for restitution: 'four times the amount' of money he had taken from people. But notice that Jesus reaches out in love before Zacchaeus offers compensation for his crimes.
The encounter with Jesus has led Zacchaeus to be a witness to restoration and solidarity. He wants to restore justice where he has acted unjustly. Whether it was the crowd, greed, politics or corruption that was preventing Zacchaeus from seeing Jesus, he has been welcomed back to the table. Jesus is waiting to be invited to his home today. Complaints and negativity continue in the background, but none of that matters. This man is a 'son of Abraham'. It was the affection of Christ, not the condemnation of the town, that reversed the situation.