In yesterday‘s Gospel we saw how important the crowd was in helping the blind man know that Jesus was near and meet him. Today the crowd, whether wittingly or unwittingly, is not enabling Zacchaeus to see Our Lord, and Zacchaeus has to resort to drastic measures. There are those in the crowd who already dislike him for being a tax collector, considered a sell out to the Romans and a corrupt man who profits by exploiting his own people. Zacchaeus doesn’t care about appearing ridiculous; he just wants to see Jesus. Our Lord rewards him by standing up for him before the entire crowd.
This doesn’t mean Zacchaeus was not a sinner. The crowd accuses him of it, and Our Lord himself says salvation has come to someone who was lost. Zacchaeus doesn’t even deny it, which is why he declares publicly that he is ready to make amends and to help the poor. If Zacchaeus had not managed to see Jesus, who knows what would have happened. When we size people up and find them lacking, or judge them, we mustn’t make that a pretext to write them off and not help them meet Our Lord. We shouldn’t close ranks and prevent them from drawing closer to the person for whom we’re together in the first place: Our Lord.
We’re not an exclusive club that is justified in excluding; rather, we are bearers of God’s Word who should lead anyone showing an interest to the Word himself. Let’s not be shy about helping people draw closer to Jesus through us, no matter what they’ve done in the past.
Readings: 2 Maccabees 6:18–31; Psalm 3:2–7; Luke 19:1–10.