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Luke 19:01-10 Repentance of Zacchaeus



Jesus specially attended the poor, the sick, the demoniacs, and the outcasts of Jews like tax-collectors, public sinners, and Samaritans. He came with the mission of seeking the lost sheep and saving them. All humans come under the fallen category because of the original sin. So, the redeemer came down from heaven to save all humanity. Jesus is the rescuer and relief for all who are downhearted because of sin, poverty, sickness, and exploitation. The call of Zacchaeus and his instant reconciliation with his firm resolve to share half of his assets to the poor and the rest for a fourfold restitution to his victims is an inspiring role model Jesus could present to his critics in Jordan. The conversion of Zacchaeus is a lesson for us to imitate in our lives as well. Like Jesus, who despite social criticism, sought and helped Zacchaeus, let us also seek and save those who need our service.

BIBLE TEXT (LUKE 19:1-10 )

The Temptation of Jesus

(Lk 19:1) Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the city. (2) And a man was there named Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. (3) He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see him because of the crowd. (4) So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus who had to pass that way. (5) When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” (6) So Zacchaeus hurried down and received him joyfully. (7) All the people who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to the house of a sinner as a guest.” (8) But Zacchaeus spoke to Jesus, “The half of my goods, Lord, I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I pay him back four times (9) Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for this man is also a true son of Abraham. (10) The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”



Luke prepared his gospel and the Acts of the Apostles for Theophilus after investigating everything accurately and wrote it down in an orderly sequence (Lk 1:3). So, the actions and doctrines of Jesus that Luke presents before this gospel passage would help us better understand their connection to Zacchaeus’ call and conversion.

1. (Lk 18:9-14) Jesus presented the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector who went to the temple to pray. There, Jesus favoured the attitude of humility and repentance on the part of the publican as against the pomposity of self-righteous and self-exalted prayer on the part of the Pharisee. That attitude is reflected in the conversion of the tax-collector Zacchaeus whom Jesus befriended, the result of which was the grumbling of the Jewish elite against Jesus dwelling at Zacchaeus’ house.

2. (Lk 18:15-17) When people brought their children to Jesus, he welcomed them, and compared them with those who accept the kingdom of God. The transformation of Zacchaeus’ heart became an example of the childlike who inherit God’s kingdom.

3. (Lk 18:18-23) A rich official asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Besides observing all the commandments, Jesus advised him to sell off his property, distribute its proceeds among the poor, and then follow Jesus. Though the official declined to yield to the stipulation, Zacchaeus implemented it without Jesus even putting it to him.

4. (Lk 18:24-27) Based on the decline of his call by the rich official, Jesus asserted, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” The case of the rich official aside, the wealthy Zacchaeus, while hosting Jesus, proved that such extraordinary conversions could happen.

5. (Lk 18:28-30) When Peter said to Jesus, “We have given up our possessions and followed you,” Jesus promised the apostles “an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.” Zacchaeus also gave up his possessions for the much preferred eternal reward.

6. (Lk 18:35-43) While proceeding through Jericho to Jerusalem, Jesus made the third prediction of his passion, death, and resurrection (Lk 18:31-34). After giving sight to a blind beggar in Jericho, Jesus gave spiritual sight to the sinful Zacchaeus, a publican whose conversion only Luke recounts (Lk 18:35-19:10).

Notably, Luke, who wrote the gospel and Acts, addressing a Gentile Roman official Theophilus, was a Greek Gentile. He presented Jesus as a Gentile-friendly Saviour of the world. Hence, Luke emphasized Jesus’ interest in the salvation of the excluded, like the Gentiles and the Samaritans, women, tax-collectors, and the poor along with the Jews. He presents Jesus as the saviour searching for the lost and abandoned in society. Luke illustrates how Jesus valued them, forgave their sins, and welcomed them into his kingdom using the parables of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37), the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:4-7), the Lost Coin (Lk 15:810), the celebration of the return of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:1132), the Pharisee and the Publican praying in the Temple (Lk 18:9-14), and the call and conversion of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10).

(Lk 19:1) Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the city.

Jericho is a historically renowned city because the Israelites conquered Canaan by first capturing Jericho under the leadership of Joshua and with the miraculous intervention of God (Josh 6). Joshua had allotted that area to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh 18:21). It was around twelve kms west of Jordan and twenty-seven km east of Jerusalem. Jericho being a cursed city (Josh 6:26; 1 Kgs 16:34), what with its spring water being foul and its land sterile, at the request of its inhabitants, Elisha threw salt into the spring there, and God purified the water in the springs (2 Kgs 2:19-22). As a result, the city turned fertile and went on to become famous for palm forests, balsam groves, rose gardens (Sir 24:14), and dates. In fact, Jericho was known as the “City of Palms” (Deut 34:3; Judg 1:16), and later as the “City of Perfumes”. Being the richest city in Palestine, Jericho remained a great taxation centre. So Zacchaeus, an overseer of tax-collectors here, became immensely wealthy.

The Jews from Galilee, while going to Jerusalem, avoided journeying straight through Samaria because of their enmity with the Samaritans. So, they travelled east, crossing the River Jordan and heading south. Again, they crossed back the River Jordan and passed through Jericho on the west to reach Jerusalem. Though Jesus also had travelled through Samaria, most often he took the Jericho route. While passing through the city on his way to Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus healed the blind beggar and then met Zacchaeus.

(2) And a man was there named Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man.

Zacchaeus [or Zacchai] was a Jew as is also indicated by the Hebrew origin of his name (Ezr 2:9; Neh 7:14). He was rich because of his profession and had reached the top position of Chief Tax Collector. However, he was socially and ethically poor among the Jews because of his allegiance to Rome as a tax collector and his excessive and forceful taxation strategies.

(3) He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see him because of the crowd.

He wanted to see what Jesus was like

Obviously, the wealth of Zacchaeus gave him only momentary happiness with a deepening spiritual void. There were tax collectors who had already received John’s baptism of repentance with a resolution not to collect more than what was prescribed (Lk 3:12-13). John did not prevent them from collecting taxes for Rome. But he asked them to do justice to the taxpayer concerned. Zacchaeus declined to approach John because of his greed. Some of his friends who enjoyed peace after their baptism from John might have shared their experience with Zacchaeus. But approaching John as an afterthought would have been worthless because, by then, the prophet would have been beheaded by the king.

Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus performing miracles and forgiving sins to relieve the physical and mental miseries of people who were short of basic needs. He might have heard of Levi, the tax collector whom Jesus selected as his apostle. Levi, also known as Matthew, left everything he had and became a follower of Jesus (Lk 5:27-28). The change of Matthew’s life and the joy he felt despite his worldly loss might have been a hot topic for discussion among the tax collectors. Fed up with the emptiness Zacchaeus felt and the animosity he faced from others, he might have thought of following the example of Matthew. He had heard the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector narrated by Jesus who acknowledged the publican but not the Pharisee (Lk 18:914). The tax-collectors were probably wondering how a popular Jewish Rabbi could favour them while other Jews despised them. Thus, Jesus became a point of discussion among the publicans. The news about Jesus’ curing of the blind beggar in Zacchaeus’ hometown was apparently the latest flash news. That facilitated Zacchaeus’ fervent longing to see Jesus while he was crossing Jericho, heading for Jerusalem. He wished to see Jesus, though not in person but as an observer, to find out how this man of God was in his appearance and dealings with the people.

but he was a short man

Besides physical shortness, Zacchaeus felt socially and spiritually dwarfed, too. He felt isolated by his Jewish community because of their hatred towards him as a greedy tax collector for Rome. could not see him because of the crowd

Jesus was on his last trip to Jerusalem for the Passover which was to be followed by his crucifixion. By that time, he was popular, and large crowds milled around him, including his disciples and Jericho natives who had heard of Jesus’ miraculous healing of a blind beggar in their hometown. Jews from far and near were travelling to Jerusalem through Jericho for the Passover. Some of them also joined Jesus’ band. Because of the enormous crowd around Jesus, Zacchaeus had difficulty getting closer to him. Besides Zacchaeus’ short stature that would block his view of Jesus, his social alienation and people’s hatred prevented him from entering the crowd. He might have feared an attack from his enemies if they’d find him among them.

(4) So he ran ahead and climbed a Sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus who had to pass that way.

By the time Zacchaeus reached Jesus, he had left Jericho town and was heading towards Jerusalem. So, Zacchaeus could not climb any rooftop to see Jesus. The only way he could hopefully view Jesus was to climb a roadside tree where Jesus was about to pass, probably in imitation of people climbing trees to peek at Jesus. So Zacchaeus ran ahead of Jesus and climbed atop a sycamore tree.


The Greek word sūkomoros means fig-mulberry because, by nature, it is a blend of fig-tree and mulberry tree. It resembles the fig in its fruit, and the mulberry in its leaves. The name sycamore was common for the trees with similar leaves. Fig, mulberry, and sycamore are often mentioned in the Bible.

As an ancient tree, the Sycamore gained various symbolisms like strength, protection, reliability, and clarity in different religions and cultures; the tree had long, low spreading, and strong branches making it convenient for people to climb and look down on the road, thus affording Zacchaeus a full and clear view of Jesus. Because of Zacchaeus’ story, the Sycamore became a symbol of a ‘clear vision of Jesus’ in Christianity.


Trees have special significance in the Bible. Among the many trees in the Garden of Eden, “the tree of life” and “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” standing in the middle of the garden (Gen 2:9) were special. God prohibited Adam from eating from “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” and warned him, “When you eat from it you shall die” (Gen 2:17). Satan, sin, sickness, and death came into the lives of humans from this tree. Salvation came from another tree, the tree of the cross through the death of Jesus on it (1 Pet 2:24). God revealed through John in the island of Patmos, “To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God” (Rev 2:7).

Sycamore trees were abundant in the Jordan Valley and other parts of Palestine. But their fruits were low class and were poor people’s food. The sycamore produced fruit for living, shade for people during hot weather, and durable wood for multiple usage (1 Kgs 10:27). As noted earlier, the Sycamore belongs to the family of fig trees. The Fig tree shade was said to be a spot for study and reflection on Holy Scripture. Jesus found Nathaniel doing so under a fig tree (Jn 1:48). Zacchaeus received the fruit of salvation while he was sitting on a fig-like tree, the Sycamore tree that yielded inferior quality produce.

(5) When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.”

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him

Although many people watched Jesus from the roadside trees, he chose Zacchaeus. Jesus knew by his divine power the condition of Zacchaeus as a rich man with a spiritual vacuum. It was like Jesus knowing Nathanael when Philip introduced him to Jesus. Nathanael was surprised when Jesus told of him at his first sight of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him” (Jn 1:47). Jesus had also found Nathanael first under a fig tree that has resemblance to the Sycamore on which Zacchaeus climbed.

Zacchaeus, come down quickly

When Jesus called Zacchaeus by name, he was surprised because they did not know each other. Besides, Jesus was the popular prophet of the time and Zacchaeus was a hated publican. After becoming a tax collector, it was probably the first time he was hearing himself being called so affectionately by name. That was obviously enough to soften his sturdy heart. Indeed, Jesus’ call of Zacchaeus by name in public was a huge recognition and personal attention for him. Jesus, the good shepherd, taught, “the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. … he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice” (Jn 10:3-4).

Jesus used the term “quickly” to express his enthusiasm to meet with Zacchaeus for his salvation. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem for his final Passover and crucifixion as the Lamb of God. Before that, he longed to help as many people as possible. That was Zacchaeus’ first and last chance for redemption from Jesus.

for I must stay at your house today

During his public ministry, Jesus and his disciples were wandering around and had no residence of their own. People probably accommodated them hospitably. However, this is the only recorded instance of Jesus volunteering to stay in someone’s house. Jericho, being a rich city, was the centre of the elite Jews, especially the priests and the Pharisees. Jesus bypassed their residences and elected to stay at the house of a publican. He found a double purpose for it: On the one hand, he, along with his disciples, could get accommodation, and, on the other, he could spiritually influence Zacchaeus and his publican friends. Jesus came in search of sinners and not the righteous. For Zacchaeus, it was an unexpected and gracious offer from Jesus. A similar instance that Luke reports was the calling of Levi, another tax collector, who invited Jesus to his house for a grand banquet with his publican friends (Lk 5:27-32).

(6) So Zacchaeus hurried down and received him joyfully.

Just as Jesus asked Zacchaeus to come down quickly, he hurried down joyfully to meet Jesus. Thus, both Saviour and penitent were eager to meet each other! Zacchaeus did not ever expect to be personally picked by Jesus from amidst a large crowd. That public honour obviously made him rejoice at the privilege of hosting the highly popular Jesus. In a way, the Sycamore became a medium for his transformation. He climbed it with a sense of curiosity to see what kind of person Jesus was and came down quickly from it with a sense of anticipation at meeting the divine person who was about to change his life and destiny.

(7) All the people who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to the house of a sinner as a guest.”

All the people who saw it began to grumble

The crowd that had been admirably following Jesus was stunned at the meeting of Jesus and Zacchaeus. They all knew who Zacchaeus was and wondered how Jesus could have even dared to start a dialogue with such a notorious figure in public. The sudden reaction arose from the Jews, who were going to Jerusalem for the upcoming Passover and the inhabitants of Jericho. So far, they had high esteem for Jesus because of the miracles he performed, especially his recent healing of the blind beggar. If Jesus was a prophet or the Messiah, why couldn’t he understand Zacchaeus, whom everyone knew as a publican? And so, they grumbled against Jesus. By mentioning all the people, the evangelist does not restrict the reactors to the Pharisees and priests, though they might have been the main instigators of the criticism.

“He has gone to the house of a sinner as a guest”

The crowd could not admit a Jewish Rabbi making friends with sinners, especially availing of their hospitality and dining with them. That went against the acceptable norms of the time. But Jesus disregarded what the public thought about him. He wanted to teach them that he hated only the sins and not the sinner. The same situation of criticism happened when Jesus dined at the house of Levi with other sinners (Lk 5:30). One accusation against Jesus was, as he himself observed, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’” (Lk 7:34).

Jesus’ goal was to seek the sinners and make them saints because he came in search of the lost and to regain for them the joys of paradise! So, Jesus’ action of volunteering to be a guest at the house of a publican was a lesson in action on how to deal with sinners. It was usually perceived that, a good person mingling with sinners would become a sinner. In Jesus’ case, his association with them made them saints, as in the case of Levi and Zacchaeus. That should be the influential style of a Christian. Instead of the effects of sin rubbing off the sinner onto the saint, it is the sanctity of a saint that ought to stream from the saint to the sinner, thus making them holy. “Whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (Jas 5:20).

It is natural that people of any nation or category would hate one of their own kind working for their enemies. Zacchaeus was one such Jew collecting taxes for the Roman emperor, the enslaver of the Jews. Zacchaeus’ collection method was unethical because there was no standard tariff for taxation during that period. His unjust plunder is clear from his resolution to recompense for the money he had gained by cheating others. He cared only for personal wealth and ignored Jewish patriotism, religious practices, the sufferings of the people, and even social approval. Hence, the Jewish public had branded Zacchaeus as a sinner and had detested him. He was ineligible for salvation according to their standards. So, with Jesus’ involvement with such a publican there arose doubts as to Jesus’ credibility. The crowd was unaware of Jesus’ intention and considered him as trespassing traditional Jewish boundaries. In reality, Jesus was making Zacchaeus pay back all the unjust amounts he had levied upon them. Often, God’s or His representatives’ actions might seem strange to us because of our limited knowledge. We should be patient for the outcome of their mysterious actions.

(8) But Zacchaeus spoke to Jesus, “The half of my goods, Lord, I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I pay him back four times.”

But Zacchaeus spoke to Jesus

Jesus demanded nothing from Zacchaeus. However, the publican felt that Jesus, while coming to his house, had entered his very heart. He found himself examining his conscience for the first time, followed by a powerful urge to renew his life to become a worthy host of Jesus. Like the centurion who approached Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant, Zacchaeus also felt, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof” (Mt 8:8). He was convinced that the happiness he felt in amassing wealth was worthless compared to the joy that comes by totally renouncing everything he had unduly accumulated. Hence his firm resolve and confession to the Son of God!

“The half of my goods, Lord, I give to the poor

Zacchaeus was enormously rich because he was a high-ranking tax official in an extremely resourceful city. Giving away half of his wealth was big deal. It was his years of hard-earned wealth. In the past, he could not imagine losing or letting of even some of it so easily! Yet, here was he, his heart touched by Jesus, all his material wealth becoming a huge burden for him. By following Jesus’ teaching, “Sell your belongings and give alms” (Lk 12:33), Zacchaeus disposed half of his property among the poor. So, his almsgiving was by no means a minimal amount or from the surplus savings that he had.

Zacchaeus had never thought of the hardships of the poor. But he had noticed their lighthearted living, free of worry! God had been feeding them through the generosity of others. Instead of remaining as a selfish person, Zacchaeus became altruistic and made a firm resolve to distribute half of his wealth to the poor, ostensibly keeping the rest to restitute those whom he had exploited. Zacchaeus put into practice what the rich youth failed to do when Jesus said, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). Zacchaeus wanted to be perfect and, by distributing half of his wealth to the needy, the spiritually poor Zacchaeus became rich in the heavenly realm. and if I have cheated anyone, I pay him back four times”

Zacchaeus knew he had deceived many and thus made them suffer. He volunteered to spend the rest of his wealth to compensate for the damage he had done to others’ finances. Being a Jew, he was aware of God’s commandments, “When someone steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, the thief shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. The thief shall make restitution, but if unable to do so, shall be sold for the theft” (Ex 22:1). “If what he stole is found alive in his possession, be it an ox, a donkey or a sheep, he shall make twofold restitution” (Ex 22:3). God told Moses, “Tell the Israelites: If a man or a woman commits any offence against another person, thus breaking faith with the LORD, and thereby becomes guilty, that person shall confess the wrong that has been done, make restitution in full, and in addition give one fifth of its value to the one that has been wronged” (Num 5:6-7). When Prophet Nathan narrated to King David, the story of a rich man who “spared his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the traveller who had come to him: he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the one who had come to him,” David responded, “He shall make fourfold restitution for the lamb because he has done this and was unsparing” (2 Sam 12:4). Zacchaeus confessed to Jesus his sins and restituted what the law demanded or even more by paying back four times what he had cheated. Thus, Zacchaeus showed the people the method of a genuine conversion.

A confession will be perfect only with restitution. If we have damaged the reputation of another, we should correct that to the community where we spread the gossip. If the damage is to property, we should restitute it by returning the same with interest. According to the Catholic Church, “Many sins wrong our neighbour. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g. return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbour. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must ‘make satisfaction for’ or ‘expiate’ his sins. This satisfaction is also called ‘penance’” (CCC-1459). Zacchaeus has become a fine example of undergoing true conversion by way of making a thorough confession backed with genuine restitution.

(9) Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for this man is also a true son of Abraham.’

Looking at him Jesus said

The look of Jesus at Zacchaeus was at first a compassionate glance into his sinful heart. After his confession and firm resolve for restitution, the look was of appreciation. Jesus could now show the priests and the Pharisees, watching on in disgust, why he mingled with sinners. He willy-nilly presented Zacchaeus as a model for the public on the method of repentance, and the disciples the necessity of helping such sinners.

“Salvation has come to this house today”

Because Zacchaeus desired and attempted to see Jesus, despite the obstacle of the immense crowd and his own physical stature, he found viable means to view Jesus coming and gained his attention in public. When Jesus volunteered to be a guest at his house, he felt as if Jesus was mobilizing his heart. Zacchaeus felt the need to clean up his soul to receive Jesus. While he forfeited most of his wealth by voluntarily giving half of his assets to the poor and the rest to restitute for his sins, he gained peace and joy. He regained public acceptance of the Jews and recognition of the Christians. Luke presented him in the gospel as a memorable role model for the conversion of sinners. All this is so much more precious than the value of all the wealth he had accumulated.

When Jesus called the apostles, they left everything they had and followed him. Jesus told Peter, “Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29). During the sermon on the mount, Jesus taught, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:19-21). The heart of Zacchaeus was in the wealth he had amassed through unjust means. When Jesus came to him, Zacchaeus converted his possessions into his resources to achieve heaven. Though the rich Zacchaeus became poor in this world, he became wealthy in heaven. That is why Jesus promised salvation to him and his family, who had gained from his sins and now spiritually benefitted from his conversion. Salvation comes to us and our families when we receive Jesus and respond in the manner in which Zacchaeus did.

“for this man is also a true son of Abraham”

God found favour with Abraham because he avoided idolatry and worshipped the only one and true God. Those who followed his faith, by renouncing false gods, were his descendants. Paul wrote, “Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Realize then that it is those who have faith who are children of Abraham” (Gal 3:6-7) – the Jews were proud that they had Abraham as their father (Mt 3:9); yet, “not all who are of Israel are Israel, nor are they all children of Abraham because they are his descendants” (Rom 9:6-7), but only those who are faithful to their covenant with God like Nathanael who had no duplicity in him (Jn 1:47). When the prodigal son came to his senses, he returned to his father with repentance saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk 15:21). Like him, Zacchaeus, though a biological descendant of Abraham, had lost that true sonship because of his sinful life, forgetting God’s precepts, and exploiting people. He had recovered from it by his renewal of faith through his confession and restitution for corruption.

(10) The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.

Essentially, ‘Son of Man’ stands for Jesus Christ. He used it for himself, emphasizing his humanity, while others used the ‘Son of God’ to emphasize his divinity. Both refer to Jesus as the Messiah. Here, Jesus states his mission for his incarnation. He had been doing it throughout his public life and entrusted his disciples, including us in the modern world, to continue his mission through the Church and our lives. There is no other ‘god’ who came into the world with such a mission. So, no other religion can offer us eternal salvation.

The lost

The lost are the people who have drifted from the covenantal relationship with God. Like Zacchaeus and the lost son in the parable of the prodigal son, they still have the opportunity to reconcile with God. Our first parents, and through them all humans, are lost in sin. God the Father did not abandon them. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). So, for us who are lost, Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one can reach the Father except through” him (Jn 14:6).

To seek and to save

During the past, God came down seeking the chosen people of Israel suffering from Egyptian slavery. He saved them from that bondage by training and sending Moses as His representative. Jesus is the prototype of Moses who came down to seek all sinners and to save them.

Because of the fall of our first parents, all are born with Original Sin and so all need salvation through the Messiah. However, from the time of Adam, there were righteous people, starting with Abel and Seth. God specially selected Abraham and made a covenant with him. Many of the chosen people broke away from God. Even the self-righteous during Jesus’ public ministry were among the lost who were unwilling to accept and follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Through baptism, we have regained our lost sonship with God. However, like the elite Jews whom Jesus criticized, we might also fall into ritualistic practices and lip service without repentance and restitution for our sins. Let us keep reviewing our lives and renew our covenantal relationship with God.


1. Even with all your worldly achievements, do you, like Zacchaeus, feel a sense of emptiness in your life? Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life can help you resolve it. He said, “Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn 6:27).

2. Zacchaeus did not give up his longing to see Jesus because of his short stature and the enormous crowd. He overcame the obstacles by climbing up a tree, disregarding what the public might think of him. Jesus rewarded him for his arduous attempt. Let us not get disappointed with obstacles cropping up on our pilgrimage to heaven.

3. Jesus is offering us a banquet through the Holy Qurbana (Mass). He is our host, and we are privileged to be his guests.
During the reception of the Holy Eucharist, we need to be his hosts because he comes into us to be one with us. Are we attending the Holy Mass with this awareness?

4. Disregarding what others might think, Jesus reached out to people like Zacchaeus and Levi, whom people hated or had abandoned. He went after the lost sheep, expressed his love for them, and changed their hearts. How is our pastoral approach? Is it centred on those who are active in the Church to the total disregard of others?

5. Zacchaeus’ story is a lesson on the joy of giving, more than amassing wealth for ourselves. By sharing his wealth, he was gaining resources for his eternal reward in Heaven. Are we greedy accumulators or generous givers?

6. A confession is not perfect without restitution for injustice done. Like Zacchaeus, let us compensate for whatever damage we may have done to others.

7. Looking at Zacchaeus, Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for this man is also a true son of Abraham.” How would Jesus talk about our families? What should we do to gain such a compliment?

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