As we are in our own domestic churches today, we are, at the same time, together in oneness of Spirit; as we celebrate this fifth Sunday before Lent.
Zacchaeus Sunday centers around a chief tax collector who has become rich through the fairly common practice at the time, of giving the Roman occupiers a portion of the tax money collected while pocketing the rest. The good news is that the story doesn’t end there.
We see a man small of stature (symbolizing a lack of faith and virtue) sacrificing his pride and status by climbing a sycamore tree to get a better look at who Jesus is. Jesus looks up and gazes upon a little man who is standing on a branch up in the tree; and then invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ house. Although we don’t know the exact dialogue that took place, we do know that Zacchaeus chooses freely to sacrifice his wealth by giving half his goods to the poor and restoring four-fold anyone whom he defrauded. Jesus then says to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham: for the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
This wonderful event tells how Christ brought salvation and new life to a sinful man who simply sought to see who Jesus was. This inspiring story of a changed life began with a man isolated and despised for what he stood for and for what he had done to those around him; and through his desire and effort to see Jesus, ended being joyful and free. Through his turning toward Christ with a repentant heart, our Lord takes Zacchaeus where he is at, and leads him on a journey that leaves behind the past, by following the Way Jesus has planned for him. Zacchaeus later followed Peter the Apostle, where he was eventually named Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and served his people with faithfulness to Christ and His Gospel. It is said that he later died peacefully, known as the Holy Apostle Zacchaeus.
We can see through the example of Zacchaeus, that our desire and effort to see Jesus begins the entire movement through Lent towards Pascha. Through our effort and desire to see Jesus, we are led into a life-giving relationship with Him; with an awareness of our falling short in our following of Christ and His Gospel, and recognizing our need to have a change of heart through the practice of repentance, with confidence in His tender compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and promise of new life. “Today salvation has come to this house.” We see Christ’s ardent desire to heal our hearts: our house.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20.