Working with the Word

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases:  climbed a sycamore tree, they began to grumble, I shall give … I shall repay, come to seek … to save

To the point: Jesus did not intend to stop in Jericho, but Zacchaeus stopped him short! Jesus responds to Zacchaeus’ uninhibited enthusiasm by doing for him the very thing Jesus came to do: “to seek out and to save what was lost.” Their dramatic encounter brings out something about each of them which has escaped the grumbling crowd: Zacchaeus is open to being changed through an encounter with Jesus; Jesus is the One who inspires the kind of change that leads to salvation. We are to be just as uninhibited and enthusiastic about encountering Jesus and just as willing to be changed by him.

Connecting the Gospel …

… to the first reading: The Book of Wisdom poetically describes the same dynamic dramatically depicted in the gospel that takes place between Jesus and Zacchaeus: changed behavior is called forth, God loves and spares all things, God desires conversion and grants salvation.

… to experience: Some people we meet have a lasting effect on us. For example, John Paul II’s effect on the young people gathered for world youth days, a respected teacher’s influence on a youngster’s choice of career, a beloved grand- parent’s impact on a youngster’s behavior. The challenge of the gospel is to allow Jesus to come close enough to us to have lasting effect.


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson