Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (19: 1-10) in which Zacchaeus, who climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view of Jesus as he passed, is seen and called down by Jesus, who say ‘I must stay at your house today’.
Fr Paul says this story of the rich little tax-collector of Jericho is always a bit of a favourite. It was always a constant complaint that Jesus kept very questionable people around him – tax-collectors, lepers, Samaritans and prostitutes! He seemed to enjoy their company. Tax-collectors are never popular because everyone thinks they are over-taxed. At the time of Jesus, the tax-collectors were moral outcasts, especially because they worked for the hated foreign dominators, the Romans, and if that wasn’t bad enough the tax collectors, no doubt, added their own percentage to the tax demanded. But Jesus does not seem even to be aware of their uncleanness, their faults and failings. He does not wait for them to repent and approach him, but he positively goes out to them and summons them into his company. Zacchaeus had given no signs of any good intentions. This unpopular little man was simply curious, he just wanted to see what Jesus looked like, he did not even try to get near him. So imagine his shock and amazement, perched in his sycamore tree, as Jesus invited himself to supper over the heads of all the others in the crowd. It raises the question in Zacchaeus – ‘Why should Jesus choose me?’
Fr Pauls says, this question ‘Why should Jesus choose me?’ is a question that we too can reflect on.