Gospel: Lk 19:1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received him joyfully.
All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.” Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
We all remember that in the Second Creation Story about the fall of Adam and Eve, the snake promised them that, if they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would become “like gods,” in the words of the snake. Such a glorious goal seemed desirable indeed, and they eagerly agreed to the snake’s suggestion. And why not? What is wrong with wanting to be like gods? Nothing, actually. In fact, as we learn from today’s first reading, making gods of Adam and Eve had been all along God’s secret dream for them—had they first refused the snake’s offer. As Christ says: “I will let the victor sit with me on my throne.” But the radical difference of perspective here is that Christ makes us “like gods” as an act of unmerited kindness, as pure grace, whereas the trouble with Adam and Eve was that they wanted to be “like gods” on their own initiative. They wanted to seize divinity by force, instead of receiving it as a gift.
God has not changed. If we try to be happy without him, it will not work. He is our only happiness, and his dream is to share his throne with us.