Illustration by Phil Younk
Click on the photo for a printable PDF!

Based on the Gospel of Luke 19:1-10
Lost, found and saved!

“With such a big crowd I won’t be able to see Jesus when he passes by,” Zacchaeus thinks to himself. “I’ll run ahead and climb up the sycamore tree so I can get a better look at him.”

The sycamore tree is one of those low trees with long, hanging roots that look like ropes. That made it easy for him to climb the tree.

Zacchaeus, short and chubby, is a wealthy man and the “district supervisor” of the tax collectors in Jericho, a city where many wealthy people lived. As a tax collector, Zacchaeus is not liked by the people because he works for the Roman rulers and often cheats the people from whom he collects the taxes.

As Jesus walks by, he looks up and says, “Zacchaeus, hurry down from that tree! Today I must stay at your house.”

Surprised, Zacchaeus hurries down and joyfully welcomes Jesus. Surprised, too, is the crowd. They grumble and complain, “This man Zacchaeus is a sinner and Jesus is going to stay at his home.”

Zacchaeus, thrilled and honored that Jesus will spend the day with him, says, “Lord, I know I am a dishonest cheat, but I want to change and make things right. I will give half of everything I own to the poor and pay back four times as much to everyone I have ever cheated.”

Jesus is pleased. Smiling at Zacchaeus, Jesus says, “I have come to find and save anyone who has lost their way.”

Jesus forgives the wrongs Zacchaeus has done and gives him a chance to make a fresh start. Zacchaeus’ heart is changed; he becomes unselfish, honest, kind and wants to love and serve others because Jesus loves him.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus and Jesus was looking for Zacchaeus. They not only met, but Jesus even spent the day with Zacchaeus.

Jesus looks for us, too. At our baptism, we were called and chosen by Jesus. Every day we meet Jesus in prayer, in the Scriptures, in the people we meet, in the kind words and actions of others, and in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. Jesus tells us that we, too, have chances for a fresh start. Even though we may sin, Jesus is always ready to forgive us if we are sorry. Filled with Jesus’ love, we, as his disciples, can then go out and share his love with others because Jesus says to us, “I want to spend the day with you.”