Saturday, October 30, 2010

Climbing a sycamore tree

Sunday Gospel - 10/31
Lk 19:1-10

...For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.

Did you hear about the short tax collector? The bills he handed out were longer than himself !

The above joke was supposedly often told by Zacchaeus himself, although I suppose the people at the time were far from amused. A chief tax collector was often loathed and it was easy to understand why. They were authorized to collect taxes for the Romans, and usually padded the tax charges with fat personal commissions. No one could contest the tax assessments, lest they fall into trouble with the Roman soldiers who backed up the tax collectors. As they say, it was taxes or death - two of the only sure things in this world.

The other particular thing as narrated about Zacchaeus was his diminutive size.
"but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature."

It seems he cannot muscle his way in front of the crowd, so he decided to climb up the sycamore tree, a rather undignified action for his bearing. I've often wondered how a sycamore tree looks like, as it does not grow anywhere in our own country. A sister in the community just came back from a Holy Land tour/pilgrimage, and one of the things she brought back for us was some nuts from a sycamore tree. It actually tasted somewhat like large roasted peanuts, however I believed that during the biblical times these sycamore nuts were fed to the pigs! So at the time, the sycamore tree was considered 'unclean'. How doubly humiliating it must have been for Zacchaeus.

Going forward, we now ask ourselves to what lengths shall we go to be able to 'see' and accept Jesus. First, we have to feel lost, much as Zacchaeus felt.
Usually those who are lost have all the power and the money, yet the most essential part is missing. Some realize it, but sadly many do not. Those that
do not, simply won't bother climbing up a sycamore tree. Zacchaeus had more than enough money and power, yet he longed to see and submit to the Savior.
After all, what he had to give up was peanuts compared to what he was being offered by Jesus: salvation.

P.S. Our friend regaled us with her account of her Holy Land pilgrimage. I was in awe at her narrated experiences. Someday I hope me and the wife will have the opportunity experience that tour/ pilgrimage. She also gave me a souvenir -- a rosary carved out of wood. Sycamore wood, I think.

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