Zacchaeus Did Not Recognize His Righteous Heart

Pentecost 24 Monday

Luke 19:6

“And he climbed down quickly and received him with joy.”

The gospel tells us clearly that Zacchaeus did not think much of himself; he considered himself unworthy that such a great, powerful prophet should enter into his house as a guest. He considered the high priests in Jerusalem and many others to be worthy of such a guest. And had you asked him whether he would receive Jesus into his home, he would have doubtlessly said: “Alas, a poor man like me? Why should I have such an excellent man as a guest? I shall be content if I could see him.” This is why he climbs up the sycamore fig tree in order to see the Lord when he would pass by. Yet had you asked him also whether he would like to have him as his guest, if it were possible, he truly would have said: “Would to God that I had received such great grace before him if he only were willing; but I am not worthy of him. He, to be sure, seeks other people who are more worthy than I am.” The evangelist clearly expresses this humility and self-loathing when he states how he received the Lord in his home with joy. It is written in Jeremiah 17-9-10: “Man’s heart is evil and inscrutable; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart and examine it.” Zacchaeus here did not recognize that his heart was righteous before God; however, Christ recognized this well and revealed this to the whole world: “Who is like our God, who is seated high in the heavens and looks far down?” (Psalm 113:5-6) Is this not a reason for man to rejoice when his conscience condemns and rebukes him, when the entire world despises him?
For God is the Most High but he searches the deepest depth of the heart; he even knows the most secret thoughts
and desires in man, as we can see here in Zacchaeus…Who would not believe that a great multitude was following Christ on his way through Jericho, probably several thousand people? Yet whom among those many does he receive kindly? Perhaps him who screams the loudest? Or him who wears a golden and velvety cope? Or him who carries a monstrance filled with relics? Or those who carry big candles and burning torches? No, he does not look at any of those. He looks instead to the most despised Zacchaeus who was not wearing a rosary on his head, who also was not adorned by any episcopal dignity or authority. In his devout, humble heart, Zacchaeus ardently and assiduously desired only to see
Christ. That was his relic; that was his snow-white adornment in God’s eyes. Christ particularly recommended this adornment to his disciples when he said, Matthew 10:16: “Be innocent as doves.”

St. Louis ed., 11:2416-2418.

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