Story of Zaccheus illustrates God's transformative love
by Sister Francis Bangert
The readings today offer us a reflection on the magnitude of Divine Mercy. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life”. One of Webster’s definitions for “so” is very or very much. The sentence would then read, “God so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o loved the world" …to infinity. This Majestic Creator before whom “the whole universe is as a grain from a balance (weighing scale) or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth”, has mercy on all. This Awesome One “loves all things and loathes nothing that has been made."
The story of Zaccheus in today’s Gospel gives us a concrete example of this mercy. Zaccheus is a Jew by birth, a chief and unjust tax collector working for Roman-occupied Jericho. Besides collecting exorbitant taxes for a foreign government making him a traitor, he added extra money for himself, greedy actions which did not live up to his name “pure” or “innocent”.
This Transcendent One, now Emmanuel (God with us), offers Zaccheus an opportunity to change his ways. Jesus calls him by name to come down from the tree, his comfort zone, and invites himself to the home of Zaccheus. Receiving such a gentle, nonjudgmental invitation motivates Zaccheus to come clean and to pay back all and even more in restitution. Transformation and salvation have come to him for Jesus, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.
- What might keep us from receiving mercy from God? From another?
- What might prevent us from giving mercy to another?