LK 19: 1-10


(photo, from the internet)

He had quite a reputation. Public figure that he was – a tax collector – he was powerful, with connections to the Roman authorities, the conquerors of the time. He was wealthy too, since his trade involved money, and for that, perhaps he was the envy of his neighbors. Behind his back though, people called Zacchaeus by another name – “Shortie” – for he was lacking in height and in a world fascinated with size, a diminutive man was a joke!


Today, the gospel introduces us to the most famous short man in the Bible; perhaps the only man so indicated in the Holy Book. Reflecting on this detail, I realized that this man Zacchaeus must have been more than physically short. He was also short figuratively, in the spiritual and moral sense. There was something lacking in him.


He was short: lacking in relationship with God. There was something missing in his life in spite of his wealth and influence. That was why he climbed the sycamore tree. He was curious whether the sight of Jesus passing by could give him a flicker of hope that his life would change; that he would find that relationship with God he so desired. He wanted to see Jesus and Jesus actually intended to see only him that day.


He was short: lacking in salvation. Zacchaeus had everything one need to be content and happy in life. His money secured his future. His contacts and colleagues guaranteed him companionship and friendship. In his heart though, he knew that money could not save a person; it could not even buy true happiness. He knew the people around him needed him only as long as they could use his power and wealth to enrich themselves. When Jesus entered his home, the Lord said that salvation has come for he knew that was what Zacchaeus craved for.


He was short: lacking in direction. His reputation imprisoned him in a situation of bondage to material things, to bad deals, dishonesty and a life full of compromises. Could he ever change at all? Could he ever experience true freedom? This man was too short to free himself from the moral and spiritual ditch he fell into.


Jesus noticed the short man, not only because he was perched on a tree. There must have been many others clinging on to the branches that day. The Lord was looking for the man who was short in many things because he alone had the power to make him tall ten times over! Zacchaeus’ honesty about his shortness – physical, spiritual, moral – is admirable indeed. May we be willing to admit our own shortness of the things that really matter and so elicit the gaze of the God who will enable us to stand straight and tall!