When it comes to correcting people, the kind of approach we take is very important. If we approach them only to confront them with their faults, most likely nothing will be accomplished. In fact, matters will be worse as the person most likely will become resentful, and harden their heart.
We have to approach people in such a way that we show them that we believe in them, accept them, and have confidence in them. The result of this is that they drop their guard and are willing to open up. This is what happened to Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel account.
Jesus saw Zacchaeus perched on the tree limb. Now Zacchaeus’ lifestyle was in complete opposition to everything Jesus stood for. I would guess that the people were hoping that Jesus would confront Zacchaeus and point out the error of his ways. If Jesus had done that, he would have been more popular among the townspeople.
Instead, Jesus did something which made him unpopular with the folks. He asked Zacchaeus if he could dine at his house and he accepted Jesus’ invitation with great joy.
However, the people complained, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” The people greatly disliked Zacchaeus and they desired to see him condemned, not saved.
Once again Jesus turns the tables as he saw that what Zacchaeus needed was not condemnation but salvation. There was no question raised as to whether or not he deserved it, he needed it, and that was enough for Jesus. By reaching out to Zacchaeus in the midst of an angry crowd, Jesus showed that he cared about him. Had Jesus avoided or condemned Zacchaeus, the miracle would not have taken place.
How wonderful it must have been for Zacchaeus to experience the love and mercy of Jesus. Heart speaks to heart and one’s entire life is radically changed. May each one of us have this same experience, for conversion of heart leads to transformation of life. And this is what dying to self and rising to new life is about!
— Fr. Dennis, Nov, 3, 2019