Fr Albert’s Reflection – 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Zacchaeus was a wealthy man from Jericho. His job as chief tax collector put him in a position where he could get “perks” through extortion, and by overstating monies due from powerless citizens. The wealthy Zacchaeus, who exploits people, hears that Jesus, a charismatic teacher and healer, is going to pass through the town. Curious, Zacchaeus desires to see Jesus. He climbs up a tree to do so. When Jesus arrives, he stops close to the tree, and tells Zacchaeus to come down, for he wishes to stay at his house. We can imagine Zacchaeus’ astonishment! Had Jesus said: ‘Come down, exploiter, betrayer of the people! Come to speak with me to settle the accounts!’ No doubt the people would have applauded. Instead, they began to murmur: ‘Jesus goes to his house, that of a sinner, of an exploiter.’ Jesus’ gaze goes beyond sins and prejudices. He sees a person through the eyes of God, who does not stop at past evil, but perceives the future good. Jesus looked at Zacchaeus’ wounded heart. God is not blocked by our sin but overcomes it with love and makes us long for the good. All humans contain something of good inside their hearts and God looks for this, to help us step away from sin and return to our good selves.