the return of the penitential people
"Today salvation has come to this house." —Luke 19:9
After salvation had come to his house, Zacchaeus immediately stated his intent to make reparation for the damage done by him through his sins. This is traditionally called "doing penance." Zacchaeus "said to the Lord: 'I give half my belongings, Lord, to the poor. If I have defrauded anyone in the least, I pay him back fourfold' " (Lk 19:8). Likewise, if we have truly repented from our sins and have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will want to do penance and repair in some way the damage done by our sins.
Because sin is such a great evil, its damage is very extensive. Zacchaeus realized this. So he began to make partial reparation by giving half of his possessions to the poor. Because Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and tax collecting was a lucrative business, half of Zacchaeus' assets would probably be at least the equivalent of several hundred thousand dollars. This shows the extent of the need to make reparation and do penance.
The indulgences given by the Church also imply that the victims of sin are severely damaged. An indulgence is the Church's application of Christ's merits and the Church's share in those merits to the repair due to sin. Unless the repair job was extensive, why would we need help of such magnitude?
Purgatory is partly for reparation of the damaging effects of sin. This again implies that justice and love require reparation for our sins and that this repairing is extensive.
Zacchaeus is the patron of reparation and penance. Let us follow his example and return to being a people of penance.
Prayer: Father, through the sacrifices of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, make my life increasingly penitential.
Promise: "You have mercy on all, because You can do all things; and You overlook the sins of men that they may repent." —Wis 11:23
Praise: Praise Jesus, risen Justice and Mercy!
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, March 30, 2004
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 1, 2004