A NEW PURPOSE
“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste (σπεύσας) and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he made haste (σπεύσας) and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.’” (Lk 19: 1-10)
This is the story of how Zacchaeus, previously “out of place” in a crowd of his own people (i.e., in his own skin), found his true place and purpose in and through Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus, Who “looked up” at Zacchaeus rather than looking down at him as did everyone else, Zacchaeus could finally also take a look at himself, whom he previously despised. The corrupt tax-collector opened his doors to the Lord, letting His light into a messy place, and beginning a major “house-cleaning” of setting things right between himself and others. Thus the Lord liberated Zacchaeus to re-join the human race in true usefulness to himself and others, freed of the baggage of his past and the accompanying, alienating self-loathing.
Zacchaeus’s new purpose, of clearing away the wreckage of his past and following his true vocation, is one he takes up with “haste.” Because it’s exciting, and it’s worth it, – quite unlike sin, which tends to be the same pointless thing over and over again, leaving one to wonder whether it’s really worth it. So let me “make haste” today as well, and let the Lord into my “house,” that He might help me make some necessary changes.