On the Sunday of Zacchaeus (in the Byzantine tradition), Fr. Matthew Howell talks about the difference between true desire and wishful thinking. He points out that Zacchaeus brought his desire to fruition, how he acted on his desire rather than merely wishing to meet Jesus, and how in like manner we must do more than wish to be with Christ but our desire must bear fruit through the work of repentance in order to gain salvation, which is union and communion with God: “When we desire the Lord and encounter the Lord, that desire must bear fruit, otherwise it is wishful thinking.” Fr. Matthew also talks about the fruit of Zacchaeus’ repentance based on his encounter with God’s love, the resulting of the relationship with Jesus, both stemming from obedience to Christ. Along the way, Fr. Matthew compares Zacchaeus to Al Capone and Darth Vader, quotes the children’s song about Zacchaeus, and even references the television show Bewitched.
Brethren, remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
At that time, Jesus was passing through Jericho. And there was a man named Zacchaios; he was a chief 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, “Zacchaios, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he made haste 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 Zacchaios 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.”