[Jesus said to Zacchaeus the tax collector] “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” All the people saw this and began tomutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10
“Life isn’t fair.” I heard these words very often from my parents as a young man growing up. My mother’s life certainly wasn’t fair, as she lost her father when she was three years old and my grandmother was left to raise her on very little income.
In the gospel this week we hear the grumbles of those who saw Jesus welcome a man who had made mistakes in his role as tax collector. Surely some of those grumbles were along the lines of “This isn’t fair! Zacchaeus doesn’t even want to have dinner with Jesus. I’m a good person who does the right thing – Jesus should have dinner with me!”
God’s kingdom is not ‘fair’, but it is ‘just’. To be ‘fair’ means to ensure that everyone receives the same thing, but to be just means to ensure that everyone receives what they need in order to be on an even footing. This idea of ‘just’ was not welcomed by the people of Jesus’ day, nor is it always welcomed by people today. But God’s actions are always just and always for the benefit of all of his people.
God calls us to rejoice and to be glad always. He calls us to rejoice in the salvation and success of all of our brothers and sisters. Let us not be jealous or grumble when God provides justice for his people. The Bible shows that God’s justice often looks foolish to us but we can trust that he knows what he is doing. May we have the faith to trust in him, his timing, his ways and his priorities.