“Know that when you mortify your own self-will, then Mine reigns within you.”
Jesus’ words to St. Faustina as recorded in her Diary, par. 365
The story of Zacchaeus is so enjoyably straightforward with a pleasant ending that it could easily be overlooked for its hidden richness. Holy Mother Church, however, leads us to that richness by coupling this story with the humbling excerpt from Wisdom in the first reading: Before the Lord the whole universe is as… a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth. If the whole universe is that small in the eyes of God then what does that make me who am like a drop in the whole universe? The analogy is created to show God’s incredible magnificence: but You have mercy on all, because you can do all things. Yes, God in His greatness notices me in my smallness and CAN forgive my sins.
The Church Fathers see Zacchaeus as a metaphor for our own lives. Ambrose sees his small in stature as his weakness in sin; Titus of Bostra sees the crowd as the sins that block his view of Jesus. We, too, can make ourselves small in stature by our sins which, in turn, become the crowd blocking our view of God. Like Zacchaeus, our first step to recovery is to recognize our small-in-stature condition; then we climb above the crowd of our sinfulness to see Jesus.
Coupling this Gospel with the excerpt from Wisdom invites me to contemplate the largeness of God’s Mercy in comparison to the smallness of my sinfulness. He sees me always, yes, even in my sinfulness, but watches and waits for my desire to see Him. Then, removing what blocks my vision, He calls and invites me with a passionate heart to “come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”
It brings to mind the words from Gift of Finest Wheat: The mystery of Your presence, Lord, no mortal tongue can tell: Whom all the world cannot contain, comes in our hearts to dwell.