Carpe Tempore

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”
(Luke 19:1-10)

Scripture Study

19:1 Jericho An ancient city in the Jordan Valley, about 10 miles northeast of Jerusalem; conquered by Joshua and the Israelites when the walls collapsed. Jericho is Jesus’ last major stop before entering Jerusalem.

19:2 a chief tax collector Jews typically despised tax collectors as traitors, because they worked for the Roman Empire. a wealthy man Tax collectors often used their authority to take money for themselves. These were some of the most hated people in Israel, due to the nature of their work and their association with the Roman government.

19:3 seeking to see who Jesus was No doubt there was a great commotion as Jesus—a renowned rabbi—and the crowd traveling with Him entered Jericho.

19:5 Zacchaeus, come down quickly Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name and bestows on him the honor of host—again reaching out to someone who is marginalized and despised (e.g., Luke 5:12–14; 7:36–50; 15:1–2).

19:7 at the house of a sinner Jews typically despised tax collectors as traitors, because they worked for the Roman Empire.

19:8 I shall give to the poor As Jesus implies in v. 9, Zacchaeus’ remarks in this verse signify his repentance. This is in stark contrast to the rich young ruler in 18:22–23 who denies Jesus’ command to sell his possession and follow Him. I shall repay it four times over Zacchaeus’ pledge goes well beyond the law of Moses, which generally called for repaying 1.2 times the amount that was stolen or extorted (Lev 6:5; Num 5:6–7). In the case of stolen livestock, more was required (Exod 22:1).

19:9 salvation Refers to deliverance from sin and restoration of right relationship with God. because this man too is a descendant of Abraham Jesus affirms Zacchaeus’ identity as a faithful Jew, despite his detested role as a tax collector.

19:10 to seek and to save Recalls Isaiah’s imagery of restoration (cited by Jesus in Luke 4:18–19), as well as the divine initiative to seek the lost (portrayed in the parables of ch. 15).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel declares in the story of Zacchaeus how quickly God responds to any sign of faith. Zacchaeus’ climbing the sycamore tree shows he had more than a passing interest in seeing Jesus. He had a deep hunger of the spirit. His principal virtue was his willingness to go to great extremes. But this is what we do when we know that something of great moment is at stake. When our health is endangered, we move, we act; when our job is threatened, we go to almost any extreme to keep it.

When Jesus spotted him he said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. I mean to stay at your house today.” Christians, God responds to us readily when we show the least interest in him. He doesn’t play hard to get; he is not coy with us. When we seek him, he responds, because loving us is his entire game.

Notice how Jesus tells Zacchaeus to hurry. Don’t wait, don’t hesitate. Seize the moment of conversion when it comes.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.