An Simple Act Leads to a Changed Life
As Jesus entered Jericho a crowd gathered to see him as passed through the town. The people of Jericho must have heard something about Him because the crowd that formed was large. So large in fact, that Zacchaios had to climb a tree just to see Jesus as he walked by.
The act of climbing the tree proves to be very significant. In the tree, Jesus sees Zacchaios providing the opportunity for Him to call attention to this man who was despised by the community. Second is the fact that by climbing the tree, Zacchaios demonstrated not just his desire to see Jesus, but allows us to witness the condition of his heart which compelled him to act.
We often use this Gospel reading to illustrate Jesus’ knowledge of the condition of the people’s hearts. He sees within Zacchaios, even from a distance, the opportunity and desire for a change of heart called repentance. The people who murmured among themselves about the ‘sinner’ Zacchaios did not understand the opportunity for change, as did Jesus. They were not examining the heart of Zacchaios and who he was, but rather, what he had done to them.
By Zacchaios climbing the tree and being called upon by Jesus, the stage is set for the metanoia, the change of heart. “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
We see now the pattern; the penitent realizes the need for change and initiates action. The Lord recognizes the penitent by name and draws him near. Realizing the Lord’s love and compassion, there is a change of heart, a repentance, a metanoia. This change provides a new perspective on life and a deepening of faith which leads to change.
Each day, we are provided the opportunity to change our lives. Sometimes the change is small, perhaps asking forgiveness from someone. Sometimes it is large and complex like dealing with addictive behavior. In both instances, the first move toward resolving the distance we place between the Lord, between each other, and ourselves, rests upon us as individuals. We need to act and to ‘climb the tree’ to see the Lord. Simply by seeing Him we realize the immense love He has for us. We see Him through Scripture, through prayer, and through worship and the sacraments. We are called by our name to draw closer to Him. The closer we move toward the Lord, the more we realize the opportunity we have for a change of heart and how that change provides us with eyes to see the newness of life and deepening of faith remembering that, ‘the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.’