Daily Reflection – 11/21/2023
At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “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.” (Luke 19:1-10)
Most people have been taught that persistence is a virtue. If not a virtue, then certainly a step in life that gets us where we need to go.
Today is a story of persistence. One which changes a person and his life.
You have to give Zacchaeus an “A” for effort. Here he is, a tax collector, despised by his own people, cut off from the ability to love and be loved. His very job puts him at odds with the people around him.
He could have used his short stature as an excuse for not seeing Jesus. Or he could have used his unpopularity. Or he could have used the wealth that he accumulated as a taxpayer to sit in his back yard enjoying the beauty of the day rather than be part of the crowd.
But he did not. We can rightly imagine that there was a stirring in his heart. He felt it.
It caused him to climb a tree so that he could, at least, see Jesus. And Jesus knew that. As Jesus passed below the tree, he was rewarded. Jesus called to him and “received him with joy.”
Zacchaeus did whatever was necessary to get to Jesus. He knew he was unpopular. He knew even climbing a tree would be difficult. But he wasn’t swayed. He broke the social norm because he “needed” Jesus.
As we look around us today, there are lots of people and norms that seek to mold us. Some good and many not so good. Politicians love telling us how we should think and behave. Sometimes, even faith leaders can fail us. So, we put together our own norms.
But how do we know they are the social and behavioral norms that are right for us and allow us to live in God’s grace?
The answer is simple. The norms that we develop and the behavior that we live must be centered around Jesus Christ.
Living those norms faithfully and persistently is much easier when we have an active, ongoing relationship with God. That could include formal prayer. It may include daily meditation. At all times it involves putting Jesus Christ first in our lives. Repeatedly and persistently. Use Him as our arbiter. Use Him as our refuge. Act as He would. Live as He wanted. His word lived faithfully.
It may seem easier if we just adopt whatever the current thought or behavior. But if it is contra, in any way, to the teachings of Christ we should abandon it.
Zacchaeus proved that he was ready to hear Jesus through his actions: he no doubt had to leave his taxing tables, his livelihood, and a symbol of his ill-gotten gains, in order to seek Jesus out. He had broken every social norm to get close to Him, and when Jesus finally did speak to Him Zacchaeus responded immediately. His mind and heart were prepared beforehand and willing to respond when the Lord called.
That’s the mindset and attitude we need to have to deepen our relationship with Christ. There is much in this world that can try and suppress that. But there is nothing that should ever suppress your personal relationship with Him.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, come and stay with me. Fill my heart with your presence. Help me to see my life as one tat is intimately connected with you. Let all that I do and say demonstrate that belief.”
Zacchaeus’ testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine. The Lord is always ready to make his home with us. Do you make room for him in your heart and in your home?