Our first reading for today and tomorrow are from the Second Book of the Maccabees, which is a collection of pious stories which lack the historical basis that is possessed by stories in the First Book of the Maccabees. So, let’s look at the Gospel.
Jericho’s chief tax collector, Zaccheus, was quite real, and a remarkable scoundrel. As the chief tax collector for the Romans, for the Jews he was the most hated man in Jericho. But like King Herod he had a great curiosity about Jesus. It is amusing for us to picture the richest man in Jericho shinnying up a tree to get a good look at the prophet. It is just as amusing to picture him scooting down, pleased as punch over the great prophet announcing he would dine with him.
On dining with Jesus, Zacchaeus underwent a complete turn-around. He gave half his possessions to the poor, and with people whom he had cheated, he gave back four times the amount he had taken from them.
Seeing the great turn-around Zacchaus underwent on meeting Jesus, we feel we ourselves would love to have a moment with the Lord.
Now, Jesus did not turn Zacchaeus into a hermit. He said, “Salvation has come to this house.” Since it is likely that the house of Zacchaeus was his place of business, Jesus was letting him continue collecting taxes. Tax collectors, and garbage collectors are all doing necessary work in God’s world. Whatever you do for a living it can be a holy profession in God’s eyes.