Zacchaeus Who Wanna “See” Jesus

Missionary Weekly Reflection
Thirty First Sunday of Ordinary Time, 3 November 2019
Wis. 11:22-12:2; Ps. 145:1-2,8-9,10-11,13cd-14; 2Thes. 1:11-2:2; Luk. 19:1-10

Everybody knew the reputation of a tax collector, public sinner and traitor of the country, especially this one: he was not an ordinary tax collector, he was “the chief of tax collector” and “a rich man” (v. 2). The connection is clear: he is a tax collector, that’s why he is rich! In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus often condemned the rich! (Luk. 12:21). Previous passage even emphasized that a rich man could absolutely not enter the kingdom of God! Could this Zacchaeus be an exception? The name of Zacchaeus does mean “clean and righteous person”, but his job made him a sinner! For the community, he was a person who was “lost” or at least “misplaced”. But for Jesus, such person had to be sought and found!

Driven by his curiosity, Zacchaeus tried to see Jesus. This is the mission that he would like to reach: to see Jesus. That’s it! He wanted to see Jesus “pass”: Jesus who kept walking, Jesus who didn’t stop! But his wish was bumped by two basic obstacles: his short body limited his sight, his status as a “sinner” made him reluctant to join the crowd. Did Zacchaeus give up by his physical and spiritual obstacle? Not at all! He even “ran ahead of the crowd” and “climbed a sycamore tree”. Zacchaeus is an example of enthusiasm and an effort to overcome self-limitation. In order to see Jesus, he must overcome his shame and put away his pride.

It was Jesus who first “saw” Zacchaeus and called his name. Zacchaeus was valued as a personal. Jesus saw him first as a person, someone who was potentially “right and clean”, as the name implied! Jesus wanted to stay at his house. That encounter was obviously not a coincidence, but it had been recorded in God’s agenda: “today I must stay at your house.” So Zacchaeus immediately came down and accepted Jesus joyfully at his house. Beginning with the desire to see Jesus pass, he finally received Jesus who stopped and stayed at his house. His mission was beyond his expectation.

But people’s perspective was not changed: for them, Zacchaeus was always “a sinner”. A perspective filled with assumption, stamp and stigma. Once a sinner, always be a sinner! A pious Jew, especially a Rabbi like Jesus, was not proper to hang out nor especially stay at his house! How easy for human to judge others! How difficult for a human to give chance, to see one’s potential and to receive the repentance from others!

Zacchaeus stood up and began to speak. His first sentence from his mouth, a concrete project that he stressed out: First, half of his property to the poor. Second, if he had cheated anybody, he would pay him back four times the amount! His perspective about business and property totally changed: from piling up, to sharing; from harming, to restoring. Human was treated as partner, not as an object! That is his concrete “repentance”: changing the vision, his perspective about job, property and fellow!

Jesus gave His final words about Zacchaeus’ identity: he is also the “son of Abraham”, the heir of the promise of salvation that God had given to Abraham, which is now brought and presented by Jesus. Zacchaeus was a “lost” man who had been sought and found back and saved by Jesus, the Son of Man! The mission and discovering of Zacchaeus had been accomplished: he met Jesus. However, it’s not just meeting the celebrity Jesus who happened to be passing by, but it’s a meeting with Jesus, the Lord and the Saviour.

The labelling from others could cause a person look at himself half price, unworthy, then feel reluctant to join the crowd. Negative assumption, stamp and stigma cannot help someone to turn away from sin. God has a different way, He approaches, greets personally, opens up the opportunity for the encounter of the hearts, which then shake the conscience and animate the sinner’s love. Zacchaeus could see the “kindness and truth” in himself. Jesus’ love healed him, made him able to love others.

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)


Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:

Dialogue and Reconciliation in Middle East: May the spirit for a dialogue, cooperation and reconciliation grow in Middle East where different religious communities can share life in their togetherness. We pray…

For Indonesian Churches intention:

Prayer for the elderly: May the elderly be able to interpret their lives and become role model for they are willing to pray and keep learning to pray for the needs of church and society. We pray…

Special Intention:

May the people in our Diocese more live Christ as their King and follow His wise act in proclaiming Good News and realizing the Kingdom of God. We pray



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