We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.

from a prayer of confession in Enriching Our Worship

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Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.

Luke 19:1-6

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There’s a reason the Pharisees complained so much about Jesus eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” To anyone living in Rome at the time, a tax collector already was a sinner. Tax collectors were known for being dishonest — most often demanding more money in taxes than people actually owed, then keeping the extra for themselves.

Zacchaeus was not just a tax collector, but a ruler among them: someone so good at stealing people’s money that he had gotten rich doing it. He would have been considered especially sinful, even among tax collectors. He was an unlikely candidate for listening to Jesus’ message of good news for the poor.

Yet something made him want to see Jesus so badly that he scampered up a tree to do it — and then welcomed Jesus into his home. Zacchaeus knew that becoming a follower of Jesus would come at a great cost to him. He no doubt lost friends, money, and his job. But he was willing to give all those things up to live a new life in Christ.

Catherine Healy

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Jesus, there are times when it feels like I’ve gone so far down the wrong path that there is no way to turn back. Help me remember the example of Zacchaeus, who lived a life of sin that had hurt many people, yet with your help was able to change his ways. Give me the courage to make a major change, for your sake. Amen.

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May you feel the love of the God who created you, walks beside you, and dwells within you — this day and always.

Catherine Healy

The Rev. Catherine Healy is the rector of the Church of St. Paul & the Redeemer (Episcopal) in Chicago, Illinois. She is always up for a bike ride and shares her life with her spouse, daughter, and cat. You can find her online at

Six Pieces For Piano, Op. 118: No. 2, Intermezzo In A Major

Garry Bailey

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