When I was a child we lived near a park with some extraordinary trees – extraordinary because either their branches touched the ground and provided us with a cave-like playhouse or there were some low branches that allowed us to begin an exhilarating climb! These days all the branches of our extraordinary trees are too high for climbing so I just admire them from below.
In today’s gospel (LK 19:1-10) Zacchaeus, a short, wealthy tax collector, took the brave (some would call it foolish) step of climbing a tree in order to see Jesus who was passing through Jericho where Zacchaeus lived. There’s nothing indicating that Jesus knew Zacchaeus before this visit, but when Jesus looked up and saw him in the tree, he addressed him by name, saying, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” Zacchaeus didn’t hesitate but descended swiftly and “received him with joy.” There wasn’t much joy in the crowd, however, as they grumbled about Jesus choosing to visit “a sinner” like their collector of taxes. It seems that there are three things to be aware of here: 1. the enthusiasm and quick response of Zacchaeus to the invitation of Jesus, 2. the very public choice of Zacchaeus by Jesus, 3. the jealousy and judgment of the other inhabitants of Jericho.
My questions are: 1. What am I willing to do in order to “see Jesus” today? 2. What am I willing to risk in public in order to follow the heart of my faith? 3. Am I judgmental and/or jealous at the good fortune of others depending on my assessment of their worthiness? Lots to think about here…