Irene was the head housekeeper. It was her job to make sure that all 12 coffeepots on all 12 floors of the downtown office building were kept clean and filled with fresh, hot coffee. And she was good at her job. She was proud of the spotless coffeepots and clean cups waiting to be filled. It never seemed to bother Irene that even though she was standing right there, the people in the offices hardly saw her. In fact, she had come to expect it.
When word got out that the big shots were coming in from corporate, people began organizing files and clearing away stacks of paper in anticipation of a surprise visit. The big day found everyone in their offices, nervously trying to look busy. Everyone, that is, except Irene. In fact, had anyone even thought about it they would have realized that no one had seen Irene all morning. But even if they had taken the time to look they probably wouldn’t have found her. Because Irene wasn’t running from floor to floor making coffee; Irene was sitting in the large conference room chatting with the visitors from the home office.
The tiny woman that most people barely noticed had just finished setting out the silver coffee service, hoping to catch a glimpse of the people who were causing such a stir in the office. When the guests arrived, she was about to leave when the visitors, realizing that this was probably the only person in the office who wasn’t trying to impress them, had insisted that Irene sit down and have a cup of coffee with them.
Most of the people in Luke’s Gospel probably didn’t even notice Zacchaeus up there in that sycamore tree, trying to get a peek at Jesus. But Jesus saw him. Jesus saw them all. Jesus saw the people who believed they were better than Zacchaeus, and Jesus saw Zacchaeus, the only one who wasn’t trying to impress him.
What tree must I climb to see Jesus? And how will I respond if he invites me to have a cup of coffee with him?
Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.