The first Pre-Lenten bell has sounded. From the time of Zacchaeus Sunday until Great Lent is completed, a period of 77 days and 21% of the entire calendar year, the church’s tonality will speak of conversion, repentance, and change.
The story of Zacchaeus is quite familiar (Luke 19:1-10). There is no need to repeat it. What is perhaps most notable about Zacchaeus is not simply his desire to change, or even that he struggled to change, but ultimately he resolved to stay changed.
Even as he continued in his role as ‘chief’ tax collector – and let’s face it, it takes a long time to be the chief of anything, which would indicate Zacchaeus had extorted and deceived others for years – something was stirring in his heart, and began to work within his soul. Whatever the reason, Zacchaeus’ heart changed, it converted, and in in the final analysis, he repented and even offered restitution.
Living a Christian life is a long process. It’s life-long, in fact. There are days when we feel nothing, when there is little change. Still, we learn from Zacchaeus. His repentance indicates that we only draw near to God and the light through struggle, through prayer, and through hope. The church offers nothing else.
Though his life was clearly governed by fraud, deception, lies and extortion prior to his conversion, Zacchaeus presents a wonderful example of struggle, perseverance, conversion, repentance, and change.
May the image of this man Zacchaeus and the several obstacles he overcame, put each of us on the road to repentance. This remains the reason for living, to repent and be changed. So like Zacchaeus, salvation will come to us and our house, and that we can enter into life eternal and God’s Kingdom.
– Fr Marc Vranes