Why don’t you go through the Gospel slowly as though you were staging it as a play. It was set in Jericho, one of the world’s oldest cities, and one of the most miserable. A man named Michael, who lived out his days in St. Paul’s Parish used to talk about how miserable Jericho as. Michael’s family had lived in Jerusalem for many centuries, and they used to be called the Plum People, because of the ancient plum trees in their garden. I wish I could remember that Arabic word for plums.
Michael owned Jerusalem’s Ford Agency, and that necessitated his driving tourists down to see the Dead Sea and Jericho, and he hated all the flies in that low laying city. In 1947 the Jewish survivals of the Holocaust took over Jerusalem, along with the Ford agency, and those plum trees; and Michael closed out his days, a bitter old man on Dellwood Ave. .
But the Gospel is not concerned with him. It’s concerned with Zacchaeus. If you were going to stage this Gospel how would you cast Zacchaeus? Is there any famous actor who would be perfect for the Part. How about Edward G. Robinson? I heard the other day that he was stone deaf, and he smiled at you whatever you said to him.
Maybe there is someone you know locally who would be perfect for the part. Although he was most wealthy his profession made him a social outcast with the Jews. He was so short that even by jumping he couldn’t see over the crowd in front of him. But he was a man of such curiosity that he just has to see this prophet from Galilee. And, how about his climbing that sycamore? Do you know any rich old man who would do that?
Picture yourself as Zacchaeus, your head poking down through the big sycamore leaves. You see Jesus, and, wonder of wonders, you hear him call up, “_________, come down as quickly as you can. I must stay at your house today.” How would it be if Jesus picked you out from all the people here, and he called you by name, as though he had always known you?
Jesus ended up by telling Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house.” He didn’t demand that Zacchaeus give up tax collecting. He was more than satisfied with Zacchaeus giving half of his possessions to the poor, and paying back four times whatever he had illegally taken from anyone.