BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr).



* Wis 11: 22 – 12: 2, 2 Thess 1: 11 – 2: 2, Lk 19: 1 – 10.

Permit me to concentrate my homiletic attention today just on the gospel story about Zacheus which I consider one of the most lucid and dramatic biblical stories illustrating the salient points we need to know about our journey towards salvation.
There are 4 major characters in the story and I will like to focus my theological zoom lens on each of them :
(a) JESUS: Jesus was passing this way – From Jericho to Jerusalem. The Lord of lords and the King of kings was passing. Ps 24: 7 says ‘Lift up your heads o ye gates and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors and the King of glory shall come in’ (I just chose to use King James Version for this passage) . Yes, the Prince of peace, mighty God and Saviour of the world was passing, Is 9: 6, Jn 1: 29.
(b) ZACHEUS: He represents all of us sinners; blocked from seeing Jesus by the obstacles of riches, shortness and the crowd. He was rich but poor in spirit. Zacheus was one of the Senior tax collectors and a wealthy man (fits into the image of a pot – bellied corrupt DPO) yet he wanted to see Jesus but was hindered by the crowd and his shortness.
(c) THE CROWD: The Jewish crowd hated tax collectors as their inveterate enemies and would not miss any opportunity to linch them in the heat of a stampede.
(d) THE SYCAMORE: The sycamore in this gospel became the image of the Church as ‘refugium peccatorum’ (refuge of sinners). Zacheus used it as a spring board for salvation and the access route to seeing Jesus. It took him a chunk of wit and liver to climb that tree of salvation.

In the midst of problematic situations, wise people often take wise actions. In the case of Zacheus, he took a proactive action by running ahead and climbing up the sycamore tree. The sycamore tree is the tree of divine grace; the sacramental grace that elevates the sinner above the obstacles of sin and makes him /her qualified to see Jesus inspite of his /her stature.
Jesus also took a proactive action /reaction to Zacheus’ gesture of faith. He said: ‘Zacheus, make haste and come down for I must stay at your house today. ‘Behold, I am standing at the door knocking (this door has no handle from the outside), whoever opens to me, I shall come in and share a meal’, Rev 3: 20.

The gift of the Eucharistic presence is the divine provision /avenue by which Jesus stays in our house today. Going to his house mearnt both the ministration of the Word and the Eucharist (communion).
Post mortem reaction of the crowd; They murmured: ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner’. But that musing was of no consequence because ‘wisdom is justified by her deeds’ and besides ‘God’s ways are not our ways’, Is 55: 8 – 9.
Final reaction from Zacheus; He repented and made restitution. Take note that salvation always precedes repentance but many think it is the other way round. The 3 ‘R’ s of salvation are: (i) Redemption; Christ redeemed us first, Col 2: 12, (ii) Repentance; Our response to this salvific love is to repent from our sins as Zacheus did, 2 Cor 5: 14.
(iii) Regeneration; The final result is a change of life, 2 Cor 5: 17. This is what happened in Zacheus’ life. He made a 400% restitution and offered 50% of his wealth.

According to Emeric Lawrence, ‘ When the human person’s search for God coincides with God’s search for him – that is salvation’. The 3 ‘D’ s of spiritual life are; Determination, Dedication and Discipline and Zacheus passed in all of these tests.
The Catholic Church is being derided in some circles today as the ‘Sinners’ Church’ and indeed we have accepted that insult. As Christ glories in being called a friend of tax collectors and sinners, so the Catholic Church glories in being called the ‘Sinners’ Church’. Eugene Kennedy says that ‘The Catholic Church is the home of sinners because it makes room for everybody’s salvation through the sacrament of penance’.
There are three times the Lord knocks at the door of our hearts wanting to come in;
(i) Whenever the scriptures are being read and explained, especially during mass, evening Bible study, Pious society fellowships, Lk 24 :49, Jn 8 : 31.
(ii) In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Jn 6 :54.
(iii) When we encounter the poor and the needy, Matt 25: 40.
* We must never miss our opportunity to see Jesus.

Today, we have known where we can find Jesus – at Zacheus’ house. He is not difficult to find. He comes to your house whenever you act like Zacheus. Learning the ‘Zacheus’ attitude entails just 2 things;
(i) Proactive response of faith – He kept trying to see Jesus even though he was short.
(ii) Real repentance – He stood his ground, gave half of his wealth and repaid 4 times over.
* Story of a man who lost all his wealth only to regain Christ and his family.
* Song: Whenever you see me talk about Jesus, he’s the winner of my soul.

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