The gospel of this 31st Sunday in Ordinary times, (Year C, Luke 19:1-10), tells the story of a man called Zacchaeus. He is said to be a chief tax collector and was rich, prosperous, and had all the treasures of life. But Scriptures then said, “He was short in stature”. Although, the name Zacchaeu means “pure,” “clean,” or “innocent.”, his was despised by his people, considered an outcast, a cheat, a crook, and a traitor (for he worked for the Roman occupies). My friends, to be “short in stature” is not just about physical height; it is also a spiritual condition—a condition of the soul that affects all ages, gender, ethnicity, and race. Life has a way of making us become “short in stature”. Life can cut you down in size, make you feel lost and anonymous in the crowds of this world. Life can conspire to make you feel powerless and overwhelmed to the point of asking, “Where is my God”. People can ignore you and make you feel small and insignificant; make you feel “not enough” to the point that you are constantly trying to prove yourself to others, even to yourself and to your God. Life can make you feel like an outsider who doesn’t belong; whose value, worth, and dignity is defined by your past, your heritage, your race, your ethnicity, your gender, or sexual orientation. My friends, there are so many ways life and people can make you feel “short in stature”. The question is, “What do we do in moments like this? In this story, we can see that Zacchaeus chose not to run from who he is or to hide and be lost in the crowd. Rather, he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree so that he could see and be seen by Jesus; to encounter the saving Lord and face the truth and reality of his life. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, He saw more than a tax collector, a rich man, or a man short in stature. He saw the real man; one of His own and a son of Abraham who also must be saved. And no amount of people’s agitation was going to stop this redemptive act. This is what we all hope for. That Jesus can see me when life conspires to make me “short of stature”; that He can see more in me when I don’t like or accept what I see in myself; that He can recognize and call me by my name when I am in the wilderness of this world’s turmoil; that I can hear that saving voice saying to me, “No matter what has become of your life, you are a child of Abraham. No matter how you have been and where you have been, there is hope for a better tomorrow if only you can seek my face. You are more than what you have become; you are my beloved son and I will never forsake you”. These statements are the promises that the story of Zacchaeus holds for all of us—that Christ sees in us what we don’t even see in ourselves and what people do not see in us. Our tendency is to run and to hide and to jump out of ourselves when life tribulations attack and make us “short of stature”. This solution is never a healthy one. If Jesus is going to do anything new with us, it has to start with our life as it is. Trying to run away from, or to ignore, or to escape from our lives’ “short of stature” is to deny Christ what He needs in order to work out miracles in our lives. Scripture says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter and dine with him [her]” (Rev 3:21). Jesus is asking, if I am willing to have him come inside and heal me, to give me a thorough make over and heal the dead places in my life that are making me “short in stature”. May the good Lord give us the grace to open the doors of our heart and let Him in!
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