Gospel: Lk 19:1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.“ So Zaccheus climbed down and received him joyfully.
All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.“ But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.“ Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.“
Being of small stature, Zaccheus had difficulty in seeing Jesus as He passed by because of the crowd. The crowd hindered him from seeing Jesus. But the sycamore tree became instrumental in helping him to see Jesus. He climbed a sycamore tree which was along Jesus‘ route and Jesus noticed and told him to come down because he would be staying at his house. That was the beginning of his conversion.
Zaccheus represents those people who want to come to Jesus but because of their physical, social or spiritual condition they could not just do so. The crowd represents those people who, instead of helping others, would discourage or hinder them from encountering Jesus. The sycamore tree represents those kind hearted people who go out of their way and extend help so that the Zaccheuses in our midst may have opportunity to encounter and experience the Lord in their lives. They can be our friends, our spiritual directors, our teachers or our parish priests who guide and lead us the way to come to Jesus and be converted.
From among these three groups, where do we belong? Do we consider ourselves like Zaccheus who needed help to see the Lord? Or are we like the crowd who discourages and hinders people from coming to Jesus? Or are we like the sycamore tree willing to offer help so that others can encounter the Lord? Let us be a “sycamore tree“ and not a “crowd“ to others!