In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen (بإسم الآب والإبن والروح القدس إلهٍ واحد آمين).

In the gospel lesson of St. Luke 19: 2-10, we learn about a small man who is a tax collector named Zacchaeus (Zacchaeus’s name means “the pure and the innocent one”). Because he was a short man, he had to climb a sycamore tree to see our Lord Jesus approaching. Now, Zacchaeus was rich and was not angelic by all standards to what his name meant. Instead, he defrauded a lot of people and in the eyes of the people, he was a sinner.  In verse 5 as Jesus looked up and saw Zacchaeus in the tree, He (Jesus) was so impressed by Zacchaeus being up in the tree just to see Him. Jesus tells him to climb down from the tree, because He wants to stay at his house. Thus, his eagerness to see Christ from the tree, was the beginning of Zacchaeus becoming a changed man into the Christian world. Hence, after Christ announcement to come to his house, Zacchaeus has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit from Christ that eventually moved him. Finally, when Jesus comes to his house Zacchaeus is so overwhelmed by Christ’s presence, he announces to Jesus in verse 8 that he wants to give half of his goods to the poor and if he defrauded anyone of anything he will give it back fourfold. Jesus was touched by his announcement, because he willingly and with all one’s heart chose to do this. Christ says to him in verse 9, “Today salvation has come to this house.” To interpret this quote is simply to say that Christ (the Son of Man) came into this world to seek the ones (the souls) who have sinned and are in darkness to the light which is the light of Christ (Verse 10, “to seek and to save the lost”).

Reflection

I’m going to get right to the heart of this gospel lesson which is about a man who had a changed heart (Zacchaeus) and was engulfed by Christ’s coming to his house, in this case he realized how he defrauded people and felt remorseful about what he did to them. By his own admission he publicly announced in front of Jesus and his guests what he was going to do to become a better person, one that will follow in Christ’s footsteps into Christianity.  With that being said, how do we in todays’ world use Zacchaeus’s example for us to be a better Orthodox Christian? Are we so carefree in such a way we don’t concern ourselves by helping the poor or by defrauding someone? Is this what Christ wants? Absolutely not!  He wants to be joyful as he was in Zacchaeus’s house when Zacchaeus told our Lord how he’s going to help the poor and to payback fourfold on who he defrauded.  Consider this, our Lord is always in our homes spiritually when we pray with Him or talk about our lives that may be in turmoil.  By the way, contrary by what some people say the Lord “listens upon deaf ears” is not true. He listens if you open your heart to Him. He will be overjoyed to hear if you want to become a better Christian as Zacchaeus did.  In consequent, a changed heart leads to a changed life or visa versa, either way, it helps promote a better Christian life which makes our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ content.