Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. – Luke 19:1-3 (NRSV)
In a lonely phase of my life, I found myself wandering through Whole Foods on a Friday evening, picking up things for a solitary supper. The store seemed full of couples, carrying wine and baguettes, choosing festive appetizers at the prepared foods counter.
A very tall man bumped into me, then said, “I didn’t see you there.”
I am, like Zacchaeus, “short in stature.” I tend to avoid crowds because I know I will not be able to see well, but it had not occurred to me to put grocery shopping into that category. The man apologized. The (also tall) woman with him looked down surprised. I had gone unnoticed by both of them.
Zacchaeus climbs the tree because no one cares to make room for him. He is a tax collector, a sinner, an outsider. I love his pluck, but the story is really about Jesus. Jesus called out to him and went to his house for dinner. Jesus noticed him, and the encounter saved him by changing his life. He pledged to use his wealth to help those in need and to repay those he cheated.
When I don’t fit in with the crowd, or I can’t see my way clear, I try to get a better view of Jesus. I may not be a tax collector, but I’m like Zacchaeus, a short and plucky sinner. If Jesus noticed him, surely he notices me, too.
Holy One, thank you for noticing us and changing our lives. Amen.