The crowd offered no help
to the short-in-stature man, whose face
confirmed their initial impression
that this was one Zacchaeus, chief
among the ratbag tax collectors.
The tree was a sycamore;
its gnarled and twisted branches
offering a convenient means of elevation,
enabling the man to rise above his dilemma
and successfully view the teacher,
whose reputation had travelled ahead of him,
all the way to Jericho.
Perhaps the Zac-man’s reputation
had also preceded him. Who can say?
When the teacher looked through the shadowed
leaves and branches he saw the face
of the climbing man, and called him down
with an unexpected invitation.
Hospitality is extended and accepted,
much to the grumbling derision
of the good religious people,
who could offer only sneering observations
about who one should choose as friends.
The teacher laughs them off, captive
to a larger vision of divine friendship.
Unsettled by such disturbing grace,
sinner Zacchaeus offers compensation
and justice to any he has defrauded; a sure sign
that the gospel has been truly proclaimed
and the kingdom has indeed come near.