Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed Him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10
“Yet Zacchaeus, hearing that the Lord Jesus was passing by, climbed a tree, for he was small in stature and could not see Him because of the crowd. He saw Christ and discovered the light. He saw Christ and gave up what was his own, though he was a man who took what belonged to others.”
Ambrose of Milan (c. 339-397) in Psalm 43 as recounted Milton Walsh in Witness of the Saints: Patristic Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012) 279.
I am having a peaceful weekend in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, and continue to enjoy my book, Witness of the Saints.
Today, we read the comments of Ambrose of Milan on the interchange between Zacchaeus and Jesus. In short, discovering the light led him to change directions. He was a taker and demonstrated his repentance by becoming a giver.
“He gave up what was his own” is a powerful summary of what took place.
It matches how many scholars parse this text. The text is not saying that he gave half of his possessions to the poor and kept the other half. It implies that half reflected giving and the other half restitution for wrongs done to other.
When we discover the light we give up what is our own.
In the case of Zacchaeus, he made things right for those from which he had stolen (which follows the example set by David in 2 Samuel 12:6) and the other half or portion he gave to the poor. “He gave up what was his own.”
So, take some time today to gaze at Christ and to pray.
Father in heaven, help me discover the light like Zacchaeus. Spirit, guide me in making any necessary restitution for wrongs done. Jesus, teach me to give up what is my own.Read more