Sunday’s Gospel was the familiar and beloved story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). We read in Scripture: “Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was, but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.”
I went to Saturday evening Eucharist at a little country parish. Fr. Mark gave new meaning to this gospel as he preached. He told us to use our imaginations and go back to the time in which Zacchaeus lived. He invited us to note that Zacchaeus was a man of wealth. Now men of wealth, Fr. Mark said, in those days showed off their wealth by “eating their way” to happiness. The bigger the girth, the wealthier the man! Therefore, he said, we can imagine that Zacchaeus was very rotund, probably as wide as he was tall. So, further use your imagination and think of the mighty challenge it was for this “fat little man” to climb a tree, literally out on a limb with all his weight. Fr. Mark said that in all likelihood, Jesus was first attracted to looking up because of the groaning and creaking of the limb right above him! Gives new meaning to “Zacchaeus, come down quickly,” doesn’t it?!!
In light of Zacchaeus’ example in climbing that tree, which was undoubtedly no small feat for a man of his size, we are invited to ask ourselves a few questions this week as we live into the words of this beloved Gospel story:
Is our desire to see Jesus great enough that we are willing to leave behind the things we consider so important?
Are we humble enough to admit that Jesus sees us in all our uniqueness — and loves us just this way?
Can we climb that tree no matter how challenging the task or how foolish we may seem to others?
Be “Z” this week. Want Jesus. Go out to meet Jesus. Live Jesus. He’s everywhere … if you only have the eyes to see —- and the sycamore tree to climb!