In today’s gospel Luke tells of this short man Zacchaeus who wanted to see Jesus, who had either arrived in Jericho or was leaving it. Zacchaeus wanted to climb a sycamore tree so he could have a better chance of seeing Jesus. Because he was so short he probably asked someone to give him a boost.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus but to Zacchaeus’ great surprise Jesus want to see him. When he spotted Zacchaeus up in the tree he called him to hurry up and come down because he wanted to visit him at his home. We can just imagine how shocked and thrilled Zacchaeus was as he looked for someone to help him get down so he could rush to Jesus.
Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was; he wanted to know more about him. We each have our own idea about Jesus, it may be very limited or confused or very clear. But as in every friendship there is always the possibility of getting to know more about a spouse or a friend.
Here’s a question for each one of us. Are we willing to make the effort to climb our sycamore tree and get a better view of Jesus? Do we want to make the effort to deepen our friendship with him or ask him to deepen his relationship with us? Maybe our sycamore tree is a commitment to spend a few moments of peace and quiet in prayer; maybe our sycamore tree is a decision to read the scriptures or a good book on spirituality every day. Maybe our sycamore tree is our decision to receive the sacrament of reconciliation at which we can honestly admit the un-Christ like ways we’ve been living and thinking and which we’ve never let challenge us. Maybe our sycamore tree is a personal decision to become actively involved in some of the social justice works here in the parish. Maybe each of us can find our own tree and have the courage to climb it and come to a better, deeper and newer way of seeing Jesus and deepening our relationship with him.
The interesting point of today’s story is that Jesus was anxious to see Zacchaeus. When he spotted him in the tree he called him by name and invited himself for supper.
Zacchaeus’ neighbours were shocked; scandalized that Jesus would break bread with this crook. Zacchaeus made his wealth by working for the hated Romans, squeezing every drachma he could from his fellow Jews. What his neighbours didn’t know was the impact Jesus had on Zacchaeus and his way of living. Jesus accepted Zacchaeus as he was; a sinner and in that encounter Jesus brought out what was good in him. Zacchaeus turned his life around. He made a promise before Jesus and his neighbours that he would do the right thing by those he’d wrong and give back what he stole. Being willing to make this change in his life Zacchaeus grew in stature before God and man.
So the question is are we willing to climb our sycamore tree, no matter what it may be and get to know Jesus better and let him coax out of us what is best in us?