Zaccheus, 6’3 tall?

You may not know this about the Son of God, but…but (whispering) he wears glasses. And they’re bifocals. Contact lenses weren’t invented yet, and Lasik surgery was years away. I know this because I’ve had all three of them.

Jesus looks up into the tree and sees a grown man, 6’3 tall, hanging on a limb. Ummm. “What’s going on up there?” Jesus may have thought to himself. Or better yet, Jesus knew precisely what was going on up there.

Because you see that tall man smalled himself. (I just made up a new word.) He smalled himself through the very first sin that tempts and sins us all for our whole lives. For that, he’s become an excellent example for us all for our own prayers and reflections.

I’m sure he considered himself a compassionate, fun-loving guy to be around. He thought, selfishly, only himself. It’s that simple, and it’s that complicated. The Church calls it “original” due to Adam and Eve. We all know there is absolutely nothing original about it. The churchy word is idolatry, but it’s pure selfishness for us. After all, aren’t we all “good people?”

“Small stature” is how the Gospel describes tall guy in his shrunken state. He took the great height that God gave him and smalled himself down. So he must now climb a tree to see the light, the Son of God. Children climb trees, not adults. Children begin naturally self-absorbed until shown and taught otherwise.

And here are two views of our Gospel tale. Did the tall guy climb that tree knowing of his smallness and wanting to see the light, the Son of God, or did the Son of God look upward, through his bifocals, saw a person in need of redemption? The choice is yours. Either way works for me.

That tall guy had much knowledge; after all, he’s an accountant. But the Wisdom reading today tells us that knowledge is only what you learn. Wisdom is divinizing that knowledge wearing Jesus’ glasses.

If I didn’t tell you already, (whispering) it’s bifocals, poor guy. Not the “coke bottle” version. The lower lens sees the things of this life, and the upper is for beholding the beautiful things. It’s the difference between seeing and beholding. We all have plenty of seeings outside these old church walls. These days it’s far too much seeing. We enter into these old walls to be surrounded by beholdings. Beholding the greater than ourselves returns us to our God-created height.

The Garden of Gethsemane passage is probably the best illustration of Jesus trying to be that “small stature” guy hanging out on a limb. “If this cup could pass,” Jesus says, seeing only through his bottom bifocal. Looking upward, Jesus finally concedes, “But not my will but Yours.”

Now, that doesn’t mean, “Let go and let God.” I hate that line. We are not “human puppets on a divine string.” (whispering) Mel Torme. It’s worth it. I don’t wanna climb a tree!

Each and every day, we are blessed to balance the difference between earthly knowledge and divine wisdom. And then attempt to live a worthy life by uniting the two. May we never stop that balancing act and prayerfully, actively keep searching.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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