This Sunday’s Gospel is Luke’s charming story of Zaccheaus, the short tax collector who climbed a tree to see Jesus coming down the road. Children love this story, as do catechists! At the end of his account, Luke gives us the lesson: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.” God’s mercy toward sinners is also the theme of our first reading, a passage from the Book of Wisdom that talks about God’s merciful character: “You [the LORD] overlook people’s sins that they may repent. … And loathe nothing that you have made. … You spare all things, because they are yours … for your imperishable spirit is in all things! Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O Lord!” In the last decades of our Church history, we Catholics have been called by several popes to reflect on the mercifulness of God. Jesus himself exemplifies this God-character of mercy as he listens to and then pardons the repentant criminal being crucified beside him, and assures him of salvation. We all have a sense of justice, a sense of right and wrong, inside us — even young children. So we feel outrage when someone “gets away” with something. We feel reluctance to give passes to people behaving badly. But note that these Scriptures do not ignore sin. They only suggest that we have the patience God has in calling sinners from their “lostness” and back into relationship with God. Our Church condemns the death penalty for that reason; it closes off the chance to live a reformed and repentant life. This stance is very difficult for many people to embrace, and perhaps most difficult for victims of violent crime, unjust war, genocide. Let us pray this week about this, asking that we might see even evildoers as still belonging to God and having God’s imperishable spirit in them.