Today’s Gospel story is about a man named Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector. I have found that many children learn about him through a song about “a wee little man who climbed up into a sycamore tree.” They may not recognize the strange name, but they don’t forget the tune and the story it tells. It is a great story about stewardship commitment, perhaps paralleling our story. It starts with an interest in seeing Jesus that may take some work to satisfy. Like Zacchaeus, we are overjoyed when Jesus recognizes us and invites us to be a part of his work.
Zacchaeus has long been my inspiration because of his unsolicited response to Jesus. He voluntarily gave away half of his possessions and promised to repay anyone he had cheated four times over. Zacchaeus is my shining example of generosity. His pledge is from his heart, in response to Christ’s recognition of him. I am often asked what our financial discipleship goal should be in the 21st century. Many look to the tithe as a goal; others say it is only a beginning. I believe our 21st-century goal should be Zacchaeus-style generosity: giving that comes from the heart and does not consider what we need for ourselves; giving inspired by what God has given us in Christ.
We are all on a financial-discipleship journey. May our decisions be as spontaneous and generous as the wee little man who climbed a sycamore tree.