At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
"Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house."
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
I once heard some advice for writers on how to make a story more dramatic. “Get your character up in a tree,” the advice goes, “and throw rocks at him.” The advice isn’t meant literally, but rather it’s about how a character in jeopardy is always a good source of drama.
Well, St. Luke, author of today’s Gospel passage, seems to have taken at least a part of that advice literally. It’s the famous tale of Zacchaeus, who was short of stature and so needed a higher perch to see Jesus pass by.
But it’s really the grace of God that’s creating the drama here—a dramatic act of repentance. Even before Jesus comes on the scene, Zacchaeus is determined to see him. What led this wealthy tax collector—an unpopular figure in the town of Jericho—to be interested in Jesus? And even more, what moved him to a radical divesting of half his possessions, and a promise to over-compensate anyone he may have defrauded? It can only be grace!
And it gives you and me an important reminder. God is at work in the most unlikely of ways and in people we may least expect to change. Repentance like that was—and is—the mission of Jesus. Let’s welcome his invitation to stay with us in our daily lives.
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
• In the first reading, we hear, “The whole universe is as a grain from a balance.” How great is God, and how tiny are we?
How does this reading see us humans?
• In the second reading, Paul asks the Thessalonians to not be upset or panic about what?
Paul says he always prays for the Thessalonians. What does he wish for them?
• This week's Gospel recounts that as Jesus was going through Jericho, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree. Why had Zacchaeus climbed up into that tree?
Why did Jesus tell Zacchaeus to come down quickly?
What did the people grumble about Jesus when he went to stay at Zacchaeus’ house?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
• In the spirit of the first reading, write a list of 10 things that you love about yourself. Then, make a list of three things that you love about each of your family members and friends and give it to them.
• Host a slumber party for some of your friends. Ask each person to bring five items that can be donated to others. The items can be clothes, household items, or food. The following day, gather up all the items and take them to a local donation center.