The Rich Official and Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

We have heard these stories so many times, but at Mass today, it just struck me to ask myself. What is the difference between The Rich Official (Luke 18: 18-23) and Zacchaeus the Tax Collector (Luke 19: 1-10)?

They were both rich. They both sought out Jesus. And they both had an encounter with him. But why were their reactions, and expectations of them different?

The Rich Official was asked to sell all he has and give to the poor to inherit eternal life, he could not do it and became very sad.

Zacchaeus had Jesus invite Himself over to his (Zacchaeus) home, and because of that, Zachhaeus pledged to give half his possessions, and repay back anything extorted 4 times over. And he did it with joy.

But why was The Rich Official asked to sell everything? And why did Jesus rejoice over just half of what Zacchaeus owned? Why is there a disconnect? They were both rich. They both sought out Jesus. They both had an encounter with him.

There is no disconnect. It is because more is expected to whom more is given. But they were both given so much in terms of riches!

Not in terms of riches, but in terms of fidelity and the state of goodness in living one’s life.

The Rich Official had already been living out the commandments. He knew Jesus to be the Good teacher. He was living a Godly life already. And so Jesus wanted him to take the next step. Leave everything behind and follow Jesus. Live out what it means to be a disciple, a missionary.

Zacchaeus, on the other hand, only heard about Jesus, and had only started to seek Him out. And with his initial experience of Jesus in his life, he decided to give half of what he owned and more (considering paying back extorted amounts). A huge step already from level zero. And that is what made Jesus exclaim that “salvation has come to this house”! Because it would be expected that the trend would continue as Zacchaeus would follow Jesus more and more, and eventually do what The Rich Official was not able to do.

So for me and my family, we have been following the Lord for a long time now. We are joyfully struggling in following the commandments and dictates of the faith. And we know that the call to be part of the Missionary Families of Christ is a serious one, and one that we embrace to do as a family, no matter what it takes.

And because to whom much has been given, much is expected…

Here we are, Lord, send us.

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