”He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.’” (Lk 19: 1-10)
Zacchaeus, a despised tax-collector, did not feel “entitled” to meet the Lord, let alone receive Him in his house. But he also did not hide in his house, when Jesus was “passing through” Jericho, hoping just to catch a glimpse of the famous teacher from afar. And he didn’t hesitate to scramble up into a tree, to realize this humble ambition. Hence Zacchaeus’s great, life-changing joy at the Lord’s unexpected “Hello,” and politically-incorrect offering of fellowship to him, a despised tax-collector.
Humility does not feel “entitled,” when it comes to fellowship, be it with the Lord Himself, or with others. But humility also does not hide from fellowship in its own “house,” and embraces it joyfully when it is offered. That’s what I’ve been thinking, since we read this passage about Zacchaeus this past Sunday, one week before the beginning of the “Lenten Triodion.” As Lent approaches, and I might find myself isolated in my “smallness of stature” with respect to the Lord and others in His vicinity, let me venture out of the “house” of my own head, and become a bit more open to Him and others. Let me “come and see,” wherever He happens to be “passing through” my neighborhood, this upcoming Lenten season. Because our Lord is a Lord Who tends to surprise those of us who venture out to catch a glimpse of Him, beyond our humble expectations.