Climb That Sycamore Tree: Learning How to Live From the Blind Man of Jericho and Zachaeus
Each one of us should find hope in this story because, literally or figuratively, we have compromised in our lives. Perhaps in our work, by failing to live fully the implications of our faith. Perhaps in our family, by failing to love in the way that we know we ought, sacrificially. Perhaps in our "free time"- by giving into pursuits that we know actually lead to bondage. The "Good News" is that, no matter what has happened in our past, Jesus walks into the dusty streets of our own lives this day. He comes for us. Let us learn some lessons from Zaccheus about life in a Sycamore tree.
Remember that God is already there
Jesus already knew that Zaccheus was in Jericho. He knit him together in his mother's womb (Psalm 139:13-16) and knew everything about him. In fact, the Lord came to Jericho for Zaccheus. He did not need to get the Lord's attention and neither do we. Jesus comes into each one of our lives, searching for us, because He still comes to ".seek and save what was lost." We often think of the Christian life in terms of our efforts to reach God and to do His will. However, the opposite is what really occurs. God seeks us and we respond.
However, we need to "position" ourselves for the meeting. Zaccheus climbed that tree to see Jesus; he positioned Himself for the encounter; the call, the vocation that was given to Him that wonderful day. Those words of the Master "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost." would forever frame his future responses to God's continuing invitation. He would never be the same.
The Christian life is about God's action and our response to what He is already doing. Jesus reminds us "You did not choose me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). Zaccheus serves to remind us of who does the choosing and who does the responding. At the root of the word "vocation", is the latin word "vocatio", meaning "voice". Zaccheus teaches us to learn to listen for the voice of God in our personal lives and respond without holding anything back. He also teaches us to look for Jesus along the road of life.
Focus on the Lord, not the crowd
Faith is not a vicarious experience. While others can help to bring us to Jesus, He calls our name and we must personally respond. Not just once, but every day, every moment. Faith is a door into an ongoing, intimate dynamic relationship with a living, loving God who, in Jesus Christ, has come to seek and save the lost. Jesus reminds us "You did not choose me but I chose you." (John 15:16)
Zaccheus climbed that tree in order to see the Lord, not to be seen by Jesus. He did not care what the crowd thought of a grown man climbing a tree! He went after the encounter with Jesus Christ with a childlike simplicity and a reckless abandon. Do we?
The crowds in our lives rarely lead us to God. Remember the exchange with Simon Peter recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter sixteen? Jesus asks the disciples "Who do men say I am". They told him what the "crowds" said about Him. "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah.." Jesus then spoke personally to Simon and asked ".but you, who do you, say I am." Peter replied "You are the Christ". You can almost sense the joy pop off the page of the biblical text when you read the words of Jesus that follow Peters response: "Blessed are you Peter for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven."
In the Lord's invitation and Simons' response we find the foundation for a living faith. Simon was forever changed, signified biblically by the changing of his name, his identity, to "Peter". He went from being an enthusiastic, sometimes mercurial follower, to being a "rock", a leader, configured to the image of the One whom He served. He would spend the rest of his life responding to that call and eventually pour out his own blood in obedient love for Jesus Christ as a martyr.
Desire to see Jesus more than anything or anyone else
The story of Zaccheus invites us to ask ourselves if we are serious about fully and truthfully living out our Christian vocation. Do we really want to see Jesus or are we comfortable with keeping Him at a distance? Do we compartmentalize our lives, living a separation between faith and life that keeps religious things in a "religious compartment", treating faith like a hat that we put on and take off depending upon the environment that we find ourselves in?
The Christian vocation is a call to ongoing conversion by giving ourselves away to the One who poured Himself out for us.and being transformed in the process. It is about giving our whole lives over to the Lord who takes up His residence within us and then continues His mission through us. The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Galatia "No ...
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Zachaeus, Zacheus, Blind man of Jericho, faith, living faith, spirituality, spiritual blindness, revelation, living faith, discipleship, Christian living, Deacon Keith Fournier
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