As a child, I always loved the story of Zacchaeus. It struck my funny bone that he was too short to see Jesus and needed to climb a tree to catch a glimpse of the Lord. As a child, I could relate to being too short to see, but an adult with the same problem seemed humorous. I figured adults had transcended the limitations of children. I didn’t yet understand that to become holy, adults actually need to become more like children.
Perhaps that is what endeared Jesus to Zacchaeus. His child-like exuberance at seeing Jesus helped him overcome his physical limitations. Zacchaeus doesn’t let himself be held back when he recognizes the good before him.
The Lord rewards Zacchaeus for his exuberance. He rewards Zacchaeus not just with a smile or a kind word, but with the gift of his personal time and attention by spending the whole day at his house!
What are we letting hold us back? What keeps us from running and climbing a tree to see the Lord? How might the Lord reward us if we showed some child-like exuberance in seeking him?
In my own life, I have often seen the Lord take my good works done with mixed intentions and turn them into something more. For several years, I attended a weekly Rosary group whose social aspect was especially appealing. Recently, though, I realized that it was now the time of prayer I most anticipated, with the social aspect being the icing on the cake.
On the other side of things, what personal fault, spiritual or moral shortfall do we let get in the way of running to see our Lord?
Zacchaeus certainly wasn’t sinless. He admits to Jesus that he has exhorted money while collecting taxes, but Jesus still loved him. Jesus didn’t just love him from afar: he went to Zacchaeus’s home and spent time with him.
Do we have a personal sin that prevents us from seeking Jesus with exuberance? If so, take comfort in the words from the Book of Wisdom today: “But you have mercy on all because you can do all things; and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent. For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made” (Wis 11:23-24).
Jesus overlooks our sins so we can get close to him. Then, while holding us close, he heals us and makes us whole again.
Friends, don’t let your faults hold you back from exuberantly seeking the Lord. Find the nearest tree and climb it to catch a glimpse of him, that he may say of you:
“Today, salvation has come to this house because this woman, too, is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk 19:10).