In the Gospel reading today, Jesus invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ house. The reading indicates Jesus was initially going to pass through Jericho, but something changed his mind and he calls out to Zacchaeus in his perch. You can picture this in your mind, Zacchaeus, short in stature has climbed the sycamore tree so he can view Jesus as He passes by. The crowd would not likely have been kind to Zacchaeus due to his position as the chief tax collector, so he resorts to climbing to get a peek at the man he had heard about. We know little about Zacchaeus, and while he is wealthy, his life was probably not enjoyable. He would have been shunned by the Jews because they felt anyone who worked with the Romans was an enemy. Tax collectors were known to line their own pockets by charging more than was required by the Romans, so this added a degree of hatred for him. The Romans too likely saw him as someone they could not trust.
Yet none of this kept Jesus from calling out to him and inviting Himself to stay with him. We may find it odd that Jesus would seek this man out, just like the crowd who reacts by grumbling. While we ponder Jesus’ call to Zacchaeus, we should also think about how He has called each one of us. He calls out to us that He will come to dwell with us. “I must stay at your house,” He whispers to us. “I want to be part of your life, even though you do not always abide with Me.” Perhaps we come to Mass every week and take Jesus out into the world, but we get tripped up and sin. We lose our way occasionally, but He waits for us to accept His invitation to return to our dwelling.
Without Him, we are lost, just like Zacchaeus. What we can learn from this story is that Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost: us. We are His flock and He has blessed us by being our Shepherd. Savor this fact.