“Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:9-10). True to his words, which we heard in the gospel reading of Sunday, October 30, Jesus sought out Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and a wealthy man, and granted him and his household the gift of salvation.
Zaachaeus went looking for Jesus only to discover that Jesus was actually looking for him!
God is actively and constantly on the lookout for the sinners. This we learn as soon as we turn the first few pages of the Bible. Immediately after man’s fall into sin, God went looking for him. “Where are you?” was the first question that God asked man (cf. Genesis 3:9). After finding Adam and Eve, who had disobeyed His commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God immediately promised them salvation by revealing his saving plan for mankind in the Protoevangelium, i.e. the “first gospel” in Genesis 3:14-19.
God is indeed loving and merciful, always on the lookout for sinners and ready to forgive them. The 1st reading of the same Sunday echoes a similar message: “But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people's sins that they may repent” (Wis 11:23).
In the Bible, God’s eagerness to save us sometimes almost appears overdone. In Isaiah, He is portrayed as a man who can’t wait to give away all kinds of freebies: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!” (Is 55:1). Again in the Proverbs, He invites everyone to enjoy free food and drinks: “Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!” (Proverbs 9:5).
If God wants to save us so bad, and His salvation is free and always there, waiting for us to receive whenever we want, then why are we worried about condemnation to hell? Everyone surely will be saved. Right? It seems almost too easy. But wait. Look what Zaachaeus had to do to receive Jesus’ free saving grace. He repented with sincerity and action. He did everything he could to make amends for his sins. Yes, God’s saving grace is free. But the recipient must have the urge to want to receive it. That urge, my friend, must come from a heart filled with repentance, which is what Jesus asked of us on embarking his public ministry of proclaiming the gospel of God: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15).
Is repentance, true and sincere, in your heart? If yes, congratulations! Today salvation has come to your house.