A nice and interesting poem by Carol Connell, a Poet, goes thus:
“Trek began, short guy ran
Had a plan, crowd to scan
Carefully climb a tree,
Patiently wait to see
This, the key!
Jesus came, called Zac’s name
Not to blame, or to shame
Love, His aim.
Without flack, down came Zac
They went back, to his shack
Had a snack.
And so thence, Zac was tense
Soon relents, then repents
Did restore, to the poor
Stole no more, settled score
Biblical stories are indeed interesting and motivating…
… aren’t they?
>> One such Biblical story which is not just interesting & motivating, but also greatly popular is of the little man – Zacchaeus.
The Gospel of the Day takes us through this life-changing incident of this Little Man.
>> Thought little, this person teaches us big things
>> Though small, the story tells many great lessons.
The story begins with Jesus coming to Jericho and intending to pass through the town (Lk 19:1)
Jericho has a long history, especially seen in the Old Testament.
>> Jericho was the first city to be conquered by the Israelites under Joshua. (Josh 6:1-27)
It was surrounded by a huge wall.
>> However, with directives from God & under the leadership of Joshua, the city was laid siege.
On the appointed day, Joshua ordered the people to shout & the walls of the city collapsed and the Israelites destroyed it.
Joshua laid a curse on the one who would rebuild this city.
>> Thus, Jericho bore the brunt of a curse.
It is to this ‘place of curse’ that Jesus makes his entry.
As Jesus makes his entry to this cursed place, a little man named Zacchaeus climbs & hides himself behind the leaves of a sycamore tree.
Zacchaeus was a rejected man.
>> This rejection was on two levels:
1. A personal level
2. A societal level
The Gospel mentions that Zacchaeus was “short in stature” (Lk 19:3)
It is interesting to note that “Zacchaeus” in Greek means…
… the pure – a just one
However when St Luke speaks of him as being “short in stature”, it was a pointer…
… that he was perhaps living a life contradictory to what his own name suggested.
His being short was probably referring to the fact…
… that as a tax collector, he was living a life of corruption
… that as a rich man, he was still quite unsatisfied in life
Being short, he faced a sense of rejection…
… in his own self!
At the same time, Zacchaeus was also rejected by the society.
The Gospel describes him as being a tax collector.
Under the Roman system, tax collecting jobs were outsourced to people…
… who bought the right to collect taxes.
Tax collectors paid a fixed amount of tax to Rome
>> After that, they enriched themselves by forcing the public to pay far more than what Rome required.
Zacchaeus thus became a tax collector for the hated Roman government
>> He was probably treated as a heathen…
… isolated from all social life
… equated with the Gentiles at a distance when he went to the temple!
Thus, being a tax-collector, he faced a sense of rejection…
… in his own society and among his own people!
Besides, Zacchaeus was a “chief” tax collector…
… so his rejection was still more “chief” – greater and graver.
Do we also find ourselves to be rejected – just as Zacchaeus was?
>> Despising ourselves because of our own weaknesses and shortcomings?
… Being despised by the society, when we take a conviction that is opposed to the worldly and materialistic ways?
>> Despising ourselves, because of the weight of habitual sins and prolonged bad habits?
… Being despised by the society, when we fail to abide by the unholy trends of the modern world?
Zacchaeus, however, stands as an example and challenge to us…
… to not get dejected by such rejections!
>> Instead to “deeply desire” for the Lord and be ready to climb the sycamore tree of “sadness, rejection, disappointment and dejection” in our lives!
The Lord is gazing, addressing and seeking for us.
>> Am I ready to encounter, to listen and to be found by Him?
A ‘Yes’ to the question, will also mean taking some radical decisions in our life, just like Zacchaeus did…
>> Giving up of possessions…
>> Letting go of my undue desire for money, cheap popularity, the riches in my life etc.
>> Repaying those whom I have cheated…
>> Forgiving and accepting those whom I hurt, whom I don’t like, whom I am not in good terms etc.
Zacchaeus was a despised man.
>> He was despised because of his short stature.
>> He was despised because as a tax collector, he worked for the enemy-government and would cheat and defraud people.
>> He was despised because Jesus came to his house – a house of a sinner.
But the encounter with Jesus made him a transformed person
>> The encounter with Jesus made him to go beyond all complexes and filled him with deep joy!
This same transformation is at hand for us…
Let, us, learn from the ‘little man’ and make significant changes in our life, in order to experience the magnanimous wonders and graces from our ‘Big God!’
God Bless! Live Jesus!