"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost," said Jesus in Luke 19:10. The story of Zacchaeus we heard in today’s gospel reading, is a story of true repentance and conversion. This story emphasizes the process of returning to God or a journey of enlightenment in our call to discipleship. Let us then look into these aspects of true conversion and repentance as exemplified by Zacchaeus. There exists in this gospel story, five ways to true repentance and conversion. The first is the fact that Zacchaeus sought to see and know who Jesus was that he climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Him. In our call to true repentance, it is our duty to SEEK God in our lives. Just as Zacchaeus sought to see and know Jesus, so we are called to seek God always in our daily lives. We are called to do so, because without God there will be no us. Think about all the things God has done in your life and continues to do till date. Think about how often you have offended Him or rejected Him with your life of sin, yet He continues to shower His blessings, graces and mercies upon you. When we pay attention to these things, we should be excited and thankful to God and search and seek to know Him more.

The second way to true repentance and conversion is that Zacchaeus heard the voice of Jesus calling him saying “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” Attentively HEARING the voice of God speaking to us daily is very essential in our journey back to Him. God speaks to us daily in the Scriptures, Readings at Mass, Spiritual readings, homilies, in our liturgies, novenas, devotions and in our daily experiences, encounters and interactions with people. We live in a noisy and distracting world that most times in our lives, we let these distractions make it impossible for us to hear the voice of God. We often let the worries and daily hustle and bustle of life distract us from hearing God speaking to us. So it is time to attentively hear the voice of God like Zacchaeus as He speaks to us daily.

The third way to true repentance as exemplified by Zacchaeus was, when he heard Jesus calling him, he listened to Jesus immediately. For us to change our lives, we have to not only hear the word of God but we also have to LISTEN to the voice of God. Hearing has been defined as the act of perceiving sound by the ear, which simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. So in order for us to go back to God, we have to listen to Him by consciously, process meaning from His words and choose to do His will like Zacchaeus did.

Zacchaeus after listening to Jesus, ACCEPTED His words and climbed down the tree. Acceptance of the word of God is the fourth way to true repentance and conversion. Unless we accept the word of God in our lives, we cannot be His disciples. How then can we call ourselves sons and daughters of God and His disciples if we cannot accept His word and His gospel! Accepting the word of God means saying ‘yes’ to Him, a ‘yes’ that entails obedience to His word, as well as faith and trust in Him.Lastly, the fifth way to true repentance is by LIVING OUT the word of God. Jesus’s words to Zacchaeus to come down quickly, for today He must stay at His house, made an impact on him that He started living out the gospel of Christ immediately. Zacchaeus responded “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over,” and lived out his new life as a changed person. Living out the gospel of Christ is the reason why we bear the name ‘Christians’ and are His disciples. Hence, the journey to true repentance and conversion requires that we practice of our beliefs and live out the gospel of Christ.

My brothers and sisters, let us return to the Lord by following the example of Zacchaeus given us in today’s gospel reading. Let us always SEEK the Lord, HEAR his voice, LISTEN to His voice, ACCEPT His gospel and LIVE OUT that gospel in our daily lives. Amen.