In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.
When the paralytic is carried by four friends and let down through the roof before the Lord, we are told “When [Jesus] saw [the friends’] faith, he said to him, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’” (Luke 5:20; see also Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:5) Immediately on coming before Christ the paralytic is forgiven all his sins. In today’s Gospel reading by contrast, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Zacchaeus must wait until later for salvation to come to his house.
His first encounter with the Lord he had climbed the sycamore tree. He had come into contact with Christ by his own efforts and it may well be by his own pride. The Lord noticed him, acknowledged him, yet it was not in that moment that salvation came to him. The Lord then called him down, and he had to show humility, the Lord recognised this humility—this self-humbling—yet in that moment he had not received salvation. The Lord journeys on and enters the home of Zacchaeus, for even to those who are unworthy the Lord will come. He enters the home and Zacchaeus changes, he finally recognises that he must respond to the encounter with the Lord, he must change, he must repent. “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” He must make restitution, he must pay back to those whom he has cheated, and in that moment salvation has come.
And I consider my own life. I encounter the Lord from my own efforts, from reading, from listening, from studying, from getting out of bed and travelling to Church, and the Lord looks at me in my pride and acknowledges me, but salvation has not come to me. And the Lord looks at me and calls me to humble myself, to rid myself of my pride. He has seen me, he knows me, and is willing to enter my home and my heart: yet salvation is not yet mine. But if, in that moment, I recognise how I have offended my neighbour, how I have robbed and cheated by my actions and my inactions, by my words and by my deeds, and I choose to repay not only what I owe but fourfold then I would immediately receive salvation and be numbered as a son of Abraham—not by a blood lineage but by being the image of Abraham’s faithfulness.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our encounter with the Lord does not undo the wrongs we have committed against others: we are called to make restitution to those we have wronged, to go above and beyond. The Lord tells us,
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.Matthew 5:23–24
Because to be reconciled with God we must first be reconciled with our neighbours, our families, our friends. And then, were we to follow this, the Lord would immediately say to us, “Today salvation has come to this house, since [ye] also are son[s] of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
To our crucified and risen Saviour Jesus Christ, who offers salvation to all, be all glory, honour and worship, together with his unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit. Amen.
Timothy, my son, the saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and suffer reproach, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you. Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.
— First Timothy 4:9–15
At that time, Jesus was passing through Jericho. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
— Luke 19:1–10