Oct. 31, 2010 –Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Conversion is more than just a dramatic emotional experience leaving behind lingering warm feelings, although that’s the concept held by many people. A conversion, rather, is a total change from one way of life to another.
Zacchaeus found out how much conversion changed his life when he encountered Jesus, as we read in Luke 19.
Zacchaeus is described by St. Luke as “a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man.” Those two characteristics were undoubtedly connected. Tax collectors, remember, were viewed as traitorous collaborators with the Roman forces occupying Palestine, men willing to fleece their fellow Jews. After all, as long as tax collectors handed over the sum the Roman government expected, they were free to pocket whatever surplus they had extracted – and there was no appeal from their demands, so most of them ended up with comfortable amounts in their coffers. And a chief tax collector like Zacchaeus did even better. Being head of all the tax collectors for the region around Jericho, he was able to claim a share of what the tax collectors below him in rank had extorted from the populace. Undoubtedly he had grown wealthy indeed. He might even have won a contest for the most hated man in town.