Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man 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 must stay at your house today."
The first reading is taken from the book of Wisdom 11:22, 12:2. The author of Wisdom says that although the whole universe is like a grain of dust compared with God who created it, yet he loves all the things which he has created. It is he who preserves all creation, he who forgives the sins of men, his spirit is in every creature. The second reading is from the second letter of Paul to the Thessalonians 1:11, 2:2. Having encouraged the Thessalonians to persevere in their Christian faith, thus giving glory to God and Christ, St. Paul tells them not to consider that the end of the world and the second coming of Christ in glory to judge the world, is near at hand. This idea had in some way become fairly widespread among the converts and some of them just sat idly waiting for Christ's coming, refusing to do any work. Such behavior was condemned by Paul who told the offenders to work and earn their daily bread.The Gospel is from St. Luke 19: 1-10. Zacchaeus's interest in seeing what Jesus was like was caused by something more than idle curiosity. Unknown to him, the grace of God was working within him. He thought that he just wanted to see what Jesus was like. Jesus knew already what Zacchaeus was like and intended to see him and save him from his downward rush after earthly wealth. He would offer him eternal riches. This is exactly what happened. Jesus entered the home and heart of Zacchaeus that day, and not only the home and heart of Zachaeus, but of his whole household. From that day Jesus had devoted followers in Jericho, and Christianity had a strong foothold in that ancient city. We cannot have the slightest doubt that God wants us all in heaven. Neither can we doubt that he is sending out calls to us when we wander foolishly off the right road. Unfortunately for ourselves, we can refuse to listen to these calls. We can turn a deaf ear to God's offer of mercy and grace. If we do, one of our greatest sources of sorrow and regret in our future life, will be that, while we still had a chance to repent, our stupid stubbornness made us refuse to listen to our loving Father's calls to repentance.Zacchaeus was not so stubborn or so foolish. The story of his conversion is put before us today, not as a matter of historical interest, but as a matter of vital spiritual interest. We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus is approaching each one of us today by means of this very lesson which we have read. Let each one of us try to see what Jesus is like. He is a loving brother who died that we might live, a fellowman who suffered tortures that we might have eternal joy. He was also the Son of God, the God of infinite love. At the same time, let Jesus see us as we really are. Let us expose and confess to him all our earthly weaknesses and injustices against God and neighbor. He will find a remedy for us. He will put us back once more on the straight road to heaven. Today, salvation will come to us and to our house. We will become again true sons of Abraham, true heirs to heaven. — Excerpted from The Sunday Readings Cycle C, Fr. Kevin O' Sullivan, O.F.M.