31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C - 3/11/2013 - Gospel: Lk 19:1-10
Tree climber
Jesus met Zacchaeus - the chief tax collector, a wealthy man - not on the ground but above the ground. It was on a tree. Jesus looked up while Zacchaeus looked down and eyes met eyes. This wealthy man took a risk to climb on the tree to have a better sight of Jesus. The risks include his reputation and his dignity and especially the safety of his well being. Probably people of his town believed that his reputation was dead and his dignity has already been lost for co-operating with the occupiers, the Romans. Some of his victims probably even went further to wish him death or at least they hated him for the exploitation of power.

Climbing on a tree is a risk because one may fall to the ground and injury is unavoidable.  The experience of balancing on the tree probably hinted Zacchaeus that it is essential to keep balance in life. It is either too greedy or having too much favourable cooperate with the occupiers or too much sympathy for the public that could cause him trouble. He learnt to keep the balance and also learnt to hold on to something that was firm and long lasting. His whole body relied on the branch under his feet that gave support for the body weight and a better view to see Jesus and the crowds. As a fast learner the experience of catching the glimpse of Jesus opened his inner eyes. It made him recognize that the teaching of Jesus would save him. It helped him to keep balance between this life and eternal life. The love Jesus gave is an eternal love that secured eternal life he was looking for. On the tree he had nowhere to hide when the crowds saw him, looked at him or jeered at him but he was happy simply because Jesus made his fear vanished. Before seeing Jesus he probably was afraid that Jesus would give him a hard time or harsh words. Out of his expectation Jesus told him to come down and would stay at his place.

Zachaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today. And he hurried down and welcome Him joyfully v.5

In the Old Testament Adam was enriched with God's love and mercy he climbed on the tree to satisfy his own ambition. After came down off the tree he denied God's love and went on hiding and felt into temptation. He embraced wealth and power. In the New Testament Zacchaeus was rich and powerful he climbed on the tree to have a better sight of Jesus. He climbed down off the tree to welcome Jesus to his house, to gain friendship with God. He denied the power of wealth and embraced the power of God's love and mercy. People complained that Jesus stayed at the house of the sinner but Jesus came to his defence saying:

Today salvation has come to his house, because this man too is a son of Abraham, for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.v.10

Zachaeus made an extraordinary decision to lash a large portion of his possession. He gave it to the poor and he was willingly repaid four times the amount he had ever overcharged. This change of heart made him right with God. Jesus came to Zachaeus' house for a meal but in return Jesus fed him with his eternal love and mercy.