“If you go to the town of Jericho today, you’ll find there a very large sycamore tree. It is definitely not the same one that Zacchaeus climbed, but it is still there as kind of a memorial to this famous citizen of theirs who climbed up the sycamore tree to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was certainly known as a public sinner because he was one of the tax collectors so therefore he was known for being dishonest or at least presumed to be dishonest so he wants to see Jesus though and so he climbs up in the tree which shows a degree of humility. You would have to be somewhat humble in order to climb up into a tree to see somebody. When Jesus comes along he says, ‘Hey Zacchaeus! Come on down, I’m gonna have dinner with you tonight.’ And Zacchaeus hurries down. He’s so excited and of course the people are grumbling and Zacchaeus says, ‘No, no I give half of everything I have to the poor and if I’ve defrauded anybody I’ll pay them four times over.’ Conversion came to Zacchaeus because he encountered Jesus. We are all called to be a Zacchaeus within our own life and to recognize the fact that sometimes we are too short of stature to really see Jesus, not short physically (although I am) not short that way, but rather maybe just too nearsighted, too small to really be able to see Christ and the call that he gives to each and everyone of us, to each and every person that call to conversion of mind and heart. We are called to be like Zacchaeus who listens to the words of the Lord and says, ‘I want to have dinner with you tonight.’ That’s what Jesus says to us every time we come to Mass. ‘I want to share the food of eternal life with you tonight, today, will you allow me to truly enter into your mind and into your heart, not just physically through Holy Communion, but really to bring about that transformation whereby I become that new person transformed ever more fully into the likeness of Christ? Conversion really means not just a confession of our sins, but it’s a change of heart, it’s a change of attitude, it’s a change of spirit. That’s what Zacchaeus experienced in his life and what all of us are called continually to experience in our own that we put on a new mind and a new heart that we put aside the old, that we make things right and that we move forward with a new resolutions, a new sense of direction and purpose.
That’s truly what the sacrament of reconciliation is about as we experience that loving forgiveness of Christ and it’s so often for us when we go to reconciliation not just to think about what sins have I committed, but rather go deeper, ‘Why did I commit this sin? Why am I angry? Why am I unjust? Why am I selfish? What is it about me that really needs to be changed to be transformed. It’s in trying to go to the underlying attitude that we really experience conversion and that change that will make us new people in Christ and so what a wonderful example Zacchaeus is for each and everyone of us, being humble enough to really search for the Lord to listen to Christ as he says, ‘I want to be with you in your life’ and to be willing to be changed, to put aside the old, to become that new person in Christ Jesus our Lord.”