(The tax collector)
A man reviled by his own people, and rightly so, for he was a thief, a heartless man, greedy and fat with avarice, a man whose heart was tight, unfeeling towards the suffering and struggles of others. He was a tax collector, a man who stole from his own people to enrich himself. He took what Rome demanded in taxes, charging more for him-self, keeping many in poverty. A man who was without mercy for others, alone, his only friends would be others like him. He only took, giving nothing of value back to his culture, a parasite.
Then one day, Jesus came to his town and he changed. He climbed a tree to see him; such an act must have caused some derision from those around him. Perhaps it was this temporary loss of self that allowed the connection with Jesus to happen. He took no notice of those who laughed at him, a man rich, in beautiful clothes, clean, beard trimmed, and acting like a child climbing a tree.
So Jesus looked up, what did Jesus see what others did not, could not, and would not? If I were there I too would have hated him and mocked him for his foolish behavior, for his thievery, for him keeping me and my family in poverty.
Jesus looked up and laughed in delight at such behavior and said, “Come down Zacchaeus, for I will dine in your house this day”. The shocked of being seen, of being delighted in, of not being observed with contempt, which I am sure he was hardened against, I would think shocked him to his core. Jesus seemed to see into the depths of the soul that I cannot yet comprehend, and what he saw he called forth, and Zacchaeus changed, he turned around, converted. Perhaps that act of being childlike, unconcerned with what others saw in him allowed that look of Jesus to heal. What if he had not climbed that tree, would Jesus have called out to him? Or would he have even gone to see him as one of the crowd?
When judged, as well as when we judge, the knot tightens within our hearts causing us to become old and bitter no matter what our age. This pushes down our childlike nature, hides it and perhaps at times kills it. Yet one look, a true look, a loving look, and we can be undone. The knot loosens, or even unravels completely and in that we are healed at a depth where we once more can become childlike once again.