Luke’s gospel tells us that Zacchaeus is a man of short stature; he cannot see Jesus because of the crowd. He is also limited by Roman rule, by social expectations, and by other people’s judgements. Yet he is so desperate to see Jesus for himself that he risks his dignity, climbing a sycamore tree in flapping robes to place himself in Jesus’ path. The next thing he knows, Christ is in his dwelling and at his table. Zacchaeus is so moved that he responds, unprompted, with generosity, justice and joy.
Like Zacchaeus, we are often blocked from encountering Jesus. Our lives are crowded by constant demands and distractions; many of us are busy, busy, busy. Each thing we engage in might be good, in and of itself; but put them all together and our lives quickly become crowded.
Wisdom means recognising this, and weighing up our commitments accordingly. At this time of year, then, when many of us are deciding what we will commit to in the year to come, let us reflect on our commitments, our limits, and our relationship with Jesus as we enter into the story of Zacchaeus.
1. PREPARE: Make yourself comfortable. Uncross your legs; relax your body; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to you today. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out.
2. READ: Read the following passage aloud at least three times through, slowly. Listen carefully. Notice anything which captures your attention.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10).
3. REFLECT: Allow a word, phrase or image to speak to you. What do you notice? What emotions do you feel? What questions are bubbling up? Reflect in silence.
4. RELATE: What currently crowds your life? As you look towards the coming year, what changes might you need to make to place yourself in Jesus’ path once again? What is your sycamore tree? How does life look different when Jesus stays in your dwelling; that is, makes a home in you? What is your generous, just and joyful response to his presence?
5. RESPOND: Do you have any sense of an invitation, comfort or challenge? Pray about this, and tell God about anything which is emerging. If you feel called to action, ask God to show you/us the next step.
6. REST: When you feel ‘done’, rest awhile. Savour the conversation you are having with God, and God’s loving presence. Close with a gesture of thanks: perhaps a simple bow. As you prepare to leave this space, if any word, phrase or image persists, let it guide you. Or if nothing in particular arises, remember this:
- I must stay at your house today …
Come, Lord Jesus, come: and may we, like Zacchaeus, risk everything, race towards you, and welcome you with joy. Amen.
Emailed to Sanctuary 9 November 2022 © Sanctuary, 2022. Sanctuary is based on Peek Wurrung country. Acknowledgement of country here.
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