“Jesus went on into Jericho and was passing through. There was a chief tax collector there named Zacchaeus, who was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a short man and could not see Jesus because eof the crowd. So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to Zacchaeus, “Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today.”
Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Jesus with great joy. All the people who saw it started grumbling, “This man has gone as a guest to the home of a sinner!”
Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Listen, sir! I will give half my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”
Jesus said to him, “Salvation has come to this house today, for this man, also is a descendant of Abraham. The Son of God came to seek and to save the lost.”
There is a legend about Zacchaeus that goes something like this:
Some time after meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus would sneak out of his house every night. One night, his wife became suspicious and followed him. She found Zacchaeus standing beneath a sycamore tree with his arms around the trunk.
“What are you doing here?” she asked Zacchaeus.
“This is where Love found me,” he replied.
We, like Zacchaeus, need to return to those moments in our lives where Love found us. Those times when we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus loved us and we really believed in our own goodness and our ability to become what God had created us to become.
This pre-Great Fast Sunday tells the story about a person who desired to see Jesus. Zacchaeus’ desire to see Jesus was so great that he was willing to put himself in an awkward position. It was not becoming for a rich man to climb a tree.
Before we can begin the journey of the Great Fast, we must first find out how great our desire is to see Jesus. If we are not willing to do anything to see Jesus, we may not be quite ready for the arduous journey of the Great Fast.
This is why the Church gives us these pre-Great Fast Sundays. In today’s society, we are bombarded by so many things we think we need that our desires are often skewed. What is most important in your life right now? What is your priority? Are you willing to ‘climb the tree’ in order to see Jesus? We do not need to climb a tree physically, we just need to spend time in quiet with Him and Love will find us, too.
Sometimes in the Liturgical Year, the Sunday of Zacchaeus is not celebrated because we are still in the Post-Nativity Season.
Remember that the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated until February 1, the day before the Feast of the Meeting.
WHAT CAN I DO IN MY CLASSROOM OR AT HOME?
· Make a sign post in your prayer corner and put up a pointer sign named ‘Desire’.
· Tell the story of Zacchaeus.
· Why did Zacchaeus climb the tree?
· Why did Zacchaeus give all the money back?
· Put a branch in your prayer corner to remind people of the story of Zacchaeus.
· Start to take 5 minutes a day, just to be quiet before the icon of Jesus.