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Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last week we read the story of the pharisee and the tax collector who begged for mercy but who had not yet changed his behaviour. This week we meet Zacchaeus, who through the love of Jesus was able to change his. Tax collectors were singled out as sinners by the virtuous, because not only did they collect taxes for the Roman conquerors but they took large cuts for themselves by charging more than was required. Zacchaeus had become very rich through such practices. In every person there is a shadow of the qualities that they have rejected in themselves, which lie deep within them. Jesus looked at sinners and saw the treasure that lay hidden. People generally do not improve by being rejected by society. Jesus saw the little man in the tree and all the generosity that was waiting to be released.

Zacchaeus moved suddenly from being an outcast to becoming somebody who was not only noticed by Jesus but was given the privilege of entertaining him in his home. In a way he had become like a little child in climbing a tree. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven." (Matt. 18:3)

Hosting Jesus was a eucharistic moment for Zacchaeus and gave him the grace to open up the treasure chest of his shadow, giving half his wealth to the poor and making reparation for his wrongdoing far in excess of that required by the law. We too are hosts for Jesus when we receive him in communion. We pray that we can open our own treasure chests in his presence.