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The Story of Zacchaeus in the Catechism

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The story of Zacchaeus is referred to in four places in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Understandably, it gets a mention under the discussion on restitution of stolen goods (CCC 2412). Note however that in Zacchaeus, we have a case where the publican promises a generous restitution, one that went beyond the requirements of Pharisaic law. Another mention of the story is in a paragraph that deals with Jesus’ work of freeing people from the slavery of sin (CCC 549) and the work of reintegrating sinners into the people of God (CCC 1443). This latter paragraph is found within the context of the Church’s ministry of reconciliation through the sacrament of forgiveness. Finally, the example of Zacchaeus’ generosity is taken as an example for contemplative prayer (CCC 2712).

Luke 19:1-10

2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.(Cf. Lk 7:36-50; 19:1-10) But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.
Luke 19:8

549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death,(Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5) Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below,(Cf. Lk 12 13-14; Jn 18:36) but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.(Cf. Jn 8:34-36.)
2412 In virtue of commutative justice, reparation for injustice committed requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner:

Jesus blesses Zacchaeus for his pledge: “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”(Lk 19:8) Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them, or to return the equivalent in kind or in money, if the goods have disappeared, as well as the profit or advantages their owner would have legitimately obtained from them. Likewise, all who in some manner have taken part in a theft or who have knowingly benefited from it – for example, those who ordered it, assisted in it, or received the stolen goods – are obliged to make restitution in proportion to their responsibility and to their share of what was stolen.

Luke 19:9

1443 During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God (Cf. Lk 15; 19:9).

Originally posted 2010-10-25 16:37:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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