Reflection: What happens to a person when the grace of God transforms them? The story of Zacchaeus is wonderful. We smile effortlessly at the image of this short man eagerly climbing a tree, just so he can see Jesus.
But Zacchaeus is no hero. He’s a tax-collector, a choice of vocation both wicked and unjust. Tax-collectors had sold their soul to the ruling power Rome, by agreeing to collect taxes for them. And tax collectors were well-known for taking more than was necessary, skimming off a healthy profit for themselves.
He’s the last guy you expect to be spiritual.
He’s a perfect candidate for grace.
What is so crucial to note is how it is grace that brings repentance. Jesus doesn’t wait for Zacchaeus to change, and only then offer his acceptance. No, the generosity of Jesus catalyses change. Jesus makes the first move and offers friendship.
This grace ruins Zacchaeus. His Jewish neighbours would rarely have wanted to be his guest. And in response to the gracious love of Jesus, Zacchaeus’ whole way of living is transformed. This unjust and selfish man experiences the undeserved love of Jesus, and it turns him from selfishness to generosity. Zacchaeus’ repentance can be seen in tangible terms; he will no longer steal, but more than that, he will make costly restitution. What happened to Zacchaeus when the grace of God entered his life? He turned from injustice to justice, from greed to hospitality.
Question: Has the grace of God entered your life? How can we tell?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for the gracious love you showed Zacchaeus, and that you have given to us too. Please help us to respond to your grace rightly. Amen.