Until we all attain ... to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13.
Life is not about wealth, status or pleasure. According to the Apostle Paul, our goal in life is to "attain . . . the stature of the fullness of Christ." This is the goal worth living for and, as the confessors and martyrs witnessed, even worth suffering and dying for! It imparts purpose and a meaningful destiny to us.
Yesterday we heard of a rich man, a tax-collector named Zacchaeus who was "small of stature." As a tax-collector he was enmeshed in a web of deceit and robbery, stealing money from his neighbors in order to enrich himself. He became an outcast in his community that rightfully saw him as a "sinner" (Luke 9:16).
All of this changed when Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. Christ saw him perched in the tree, called out to him by name, and then went to his home. Zacchaeus told Jesus, "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" (Luke 19:8). A new way of living opened to Zacchaeus as the Lord declared, "Today salvation has come too this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:9-10).
When we sin, we shrink. Our minds, hearts, and souls become "small of stature." Zacchaeus represented our human condition of being reduced in stature through sin. Our ego-dominated attempts to compensate for our smallness of stature -- the feeding our vanity and pride, being arrogant and aggressive, boasting about our achievments, or projecting a self-inflated image to our neighbors -- are merely attempts to make ourselves look bigger than we actually are.
The climbing of the tree represents the overcoming of the obstacles between ourselves and Christ. It means throwing off the dull social conformity and lukewarm church going that substitutes for authentic faith. Instead we need to obey the commandments just as Zacchaeus did. Then, like Zacchaeus, we begin our climb into the "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
Fr. Steven Kostoff serves the Christ the Savior Orthodox Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.