Friends, these words come from the book The Enlargement of the Heart by Fr Zacharias of St John the Baptist Monastery in Essex, England. I share them with you on the occasion of Zacchaeus Sunday. ~Fr John
Remember when the Lord was going through Jericho to Jerusalem for His Holy Passion, a very noble and notable man of Jericho, Zacchaeus, desired to see the Lord, but was unable to do so, because he was “little of stature”, as the Gospel tells us (Luke 19:3). So he made himself a laughing stock, and climbed up a sycamore tree in order to be able to see the Lord. He suffered shame because of his desire to see the Lord, and the Lord noticed him. And not only did He notice him, but He spoke to him saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:5). The Lord visited his house, because He saw Zacchaeus’ suffering of shame as a “kinship” with Him. Zacchaeus put himself in the Way of the Lord, voluntarily suffering shame, and so it was unavoidable that he should meet the Lord; and, as we know, the Lord joined Zacchaeus. And do you remember what happened? Christ visited Zacchaeus, and from the moment of the Lord’s visitation, his heart was enlarged and he was restored to spiritual health, and straightway desired to restore every injustice he had committed. He said, “If I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8). This “fourfold” is very significant, for it indicates the four dimensions of the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ: “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” (Eph. 3:18), which became the source of every grace, the source of every gift. The depth of this great mystery is “the way down”, to the nethermost parts; its height is “His rising up”, above the Heavens; and its breadth and length is seen in the grace of His Cross reaching all nations: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me,” says the Lord (John 12:32).
Zacchaeus, by putting himself in the Way of the Lord, and bearing a little shame for His sake, found the Lord a companion, a guest in his house, and therefore his heart was enlarged to embrace all people. So, when we put ourselves in the Way of our Lord, and we learn to “go down”, we become partakers of His gift, and this gift enlarges the heart, and then man finds his true destiny. Because each one of us, if we are to be in the image of the new Adam, Christ, should bear in his heart the rest of humanity. Therefore, whoever puts himself in the Way of the Lord receives this enlargement of the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord, and this enlargement makes him universal.
“Give me a word!”
But when I see Jesus, though I am small in spiritual stature, like the famous Zacchaeus, and climb the sycamore, putting to death what is earthly in me and wasting my lowly body, then I shall both receive Christ, who will say to me, today salvation has come to this house, and I shall obtain salvation and live a more perfect life, distributing in virtue what I have garnered in wickedness, be it coin or doctrine.
-St Gregory the Theologian
One's external behavior may simulate the perfect saint, but when his inner self is revealed, it may be the complete opposite. -St. Paisios of Mount Athos
Abba Agathon said: “An angry man, even if he raises the dead, is not pleasing to God”.