“Tax collector; MA Dept. Of Revenue, Internal Revenue Service, Revenooer, IRS.” Feeling your tempers rising up just little bit right now?Nothing causes a New Englander’s blood pressure to rise than the subject of taxes, and those who collect them. We had this little thing called the “Revolutionary War,” over it. But why are we still feeling this animosity, because after all, folks, these departments are made up of public employees, people like you and me. And believe it or they serve the public welfare! They are the ones who collect and disperse the funds needed for our towns, cities, states and nation to function. When you come right down to it, they work for us. Now in the time of Jesus, the tax collectors served not the people, but the Empire of Rome. Funds raised locally were for Roman roads, to extend Rome’s power and authority, to pay for occupying Roman legions and officials; and enrich Rome itself. Little went to common folk of Palestine. Except of course, the tax collectors, who, once they reached the goals set for them, would claim the rest as their pay, some, like Zacchaeus, became quite wealthy.
This made them, him, very unpopular, I am sure. But I get the sense, of where Zaccheus was in this stage of his life; he was beginning to have second thoughts of where it going. He was questioning the course it was following. I would speculate that he was beginning to question his relationship with God. I would like to think that he was becoming a seeker, wishing to know what his life was really meant to be. I suspect that he may have started hearing reports about this man from the Galilee and what he was preaching. And when the opportunity arose, he went out to see what this Jesus was all about.
And you all know the rest of the story. He risked life and limb climbing a tree, in order to catch a glimpse of this man from Nazareth. And, Zacchaeus, had what our evangelical brethren would call a “come to Jesus” moment. Literally! And it changed his life forever!
Now, what about us? Have any of us experienced a “come to Jesus” moment? I would say that we all have, every time we gather together to celebrate Mass. When Father consecrates the bread and the wine, when it becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus; when we go up to receive Jesus in Holy Communion; it can be a transformative experience for all of us. Now the experience may be different for each of us, it may be intense, it may be ordinary. But each encounter with Christ, each experience we have, has the potential to make us different, like Zacchaeus! And the way we live the Gospel life, the way we put into practice the teachings of Jesus, can possibly help others experience their own “come to Jesus” experience!