Zacchaeus the parvenu, the short, rich man everybody hated, the publican who’d made an ivory tower of his ill-gained wealth—this Zacchaeus was freed for good and all by a visit from Christ. All it took was a glance and a cheerful greeting, “Zacchaeus, hurry down! I’m eating at your house today.” Zacchaeus welcomed Him joyfully and vowed, “Listen, Lord, I’ll give…”
People expected nothing good from Zacchaeus, and so he expected nothing good from them. And all at once here was Somebody who loved him, who enjoyed sitting at table with him and showed confidence in him.
Feelings that seemed forever dried up began to flood his being, buoy him up, transport and convert him. Everyone else had pushed him deeper into his sterility. Everyone else had decided to put up with him as he was, hopelessly evil and avaricious.
But Jesus had hoped in him for all time.
Appearances never fooled Him. He knew that people try to look wicked as well as good, and that both kinds are equally piteous. We’ve become so evil because no one’s loved us or discovered the real us, because no one’s inspired us or wanted us to be better.
God loves those to whom He can give the most, those who expect most from Him, who are most open to Him, need Him most and rely on Him most for everything.
God alone knows what He expects of us, what response He’s looking for, and how many people’s destinies depend on ours.
“Simon, there’s something I want to tell you. Those who need little forgiveness feel little love, but those who need much forgiveness respond with great love.” Only God knows how to love. And only those who realize that they’ve been forgiven and loved thus are capable of loving thus themselves.
“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Only those who have answered His love by returning and diffusing it will be invited to enter into it more deeply.
“My sheep know My voice and follow Me.” They won’t rest till they’ve done for another what God has done for them. With the same love and the same patience God showed, they’re going to help their neighbor discover in himself the new being God has awakened in them, the face He showed them so they could at last recognize and accept themselves.
They’re going to help someone find out that he, too, is capable of the perfect faithfulness, gratitude and love that were revealed to them, for Jesus didn’t say, “Love one another,” but “Love one another as I have loved you.”
I wish these words were mine, but I have only made them mine by trying to live out what they say. The passages above are taken from Fr Louis Evely’s book That Man Is You (1966). I offer them to you, brethren, following the precept,
“Remember who your teachers were…”
2 Timothy 3:14