By JENNIFER BURGIN
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
"Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he!" This song comes to mind every time I read the familiar story of Zacchaeus in the Sycamore tree. I remember as a child spending summers at a Baptist day care center, sitting through boring Wednesday chapel service. My repetitive yawning and occasional roll of the eyes kept me more fully engaged. I somewhat enjoyed singing songs like "Zacchaeus was a Wee Little Man" or "Jesus Loves Me" but the preaching was automatic tune-out material. At the end of the long sermon, we'd be invited to stand up at the front to "Be Saved!" There was the normal uncomfortable, dead silence. Most of the kids were saved anyway, so I didn't understand the reason for a weekly invitation. Every now and then a brave young soul ventured up to the front. I understood the "real" reason why. If a kid proclaimed that Jesus saved him, he received tons of attention! In fact, other kids would smile and pat him on the back; kids who never paid attention on a normal day suddenly noticed him. It was a clever attention-seeking mechanism. Of course, stardom was only short lived....
I often wondered how many kids were truly "saved" and believed in Jesus Christ or just pretended to be "saved" in order to get brownie points with the staff.....
I felt somewhat like Zacchaeus -- a wee little girl. Too short in height, I climbed up the tree trying to see Jesus. I just couldn't find him! I climbed higher and higher. Where are you, Jesus? I know you are here! All I could see was a fog of fakeness and a sea of hypocrisy in the child care center I was "dropped off" at each day. Jesus was in my heart; I knew that for a fact. I believed in him; however, I couldn't quite see the Lord among the haziness of memorized scripture verses and uninspiring sermons by non-ordained ministers. I trembled in fear on top of the Sycamore tree's wavering branch. Would I ever feel connected to the Lord like all of these others who have been "saved”? Would I have the courage to seek the Lord out? I always had a funny feeling that the Southern Baptistidea of faith just wasn't for me.
I hate to admit this, but I resented my mother for making me go to that daycare every day. Later I understood she simply had no other choice as a single mom. It was her best option. She never found out, until I became an adult, about the bullies. If kids weren't bullying me then they just ignored me. Most of the children played sports. I lacked athletic ability, but I could definitely beat them at board games!
Short in stature but big in heart Some of the smallest people have hearts of gold. They may be short in stature, quiet and shy, but they love big. They see the good in everybody and everything. People may snub them because they aren't as tall or sophisticated. They may even be hated because they stand for things that others don't like. Certainly, Zacchaeus wasn't a very popular guy around town. Tax collectors were known to charge higher rates and then pocket the difference. They accumulated vast wealth at the expense of the poor.
Zacchaeus knew he wasn't well loved by the people; yet, he was curious about Jesus. If I sought him out would he save me? Would he forgive me where others just shame me? I'll stay up in this tree, away from the people. I fear what the Lord will think of me. Will he recognize me and call me out?
Low and behold, Jesus discovers the wee little man up in that Sycamore tree. Not very many grown men hang out in trees! Jesus calls out to him and Zacchaeus repents! The wee little man is so impressed with the Lord that he's willing to give up all of his possessions and redistribute his wealth to the poor. Now this is a conversion worth a huge pat on the back and a round of applause!
Seek N' Save Kids of my generation (the good old 1980's) played with Speak N' Spells. Our parents shopped and bagged their own groceries at neighborhood Sack & Save supermarkets. It never occurred to me until I was much older the need to Seek N' Save. Seek out God on a daily basis; seek Him out in our homes, work places, and places of worship. When we seek God, we rediscover bits and pieces of our lost selves. God saves these fragments in hopes that we will utilize them as we grow wiser in the faith. For me, I've learned to forgive the daycare bullies and love them as children of God. I've learned to respect those with different religious viewpoints. Best of all, through years of seeking out God, and finding the Catholic Church, I finally understood the true meaning of being saved. Christ died on the cross for our salvation. God forgives us over and over again; he loves us that much!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin. Please follow her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality