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Climb Zacchaeus’ tree

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Climb Zacchaeus’ tree

As we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints this Sunday (unless you’re reading this from Scotland), we miss the story of Zacchaeus, so I thought we could pay a little attention to it here, not least of all because it lends itself beautifully to a style of prayer which uses imagination-and-response and is easy peasey lemon squeezy.

You simply read the Gospel passage as though you are reminiscing with Jesus, so you change each ‘Jesus’ or ‘He’ for ‘You’ and you substitute one of the characters for yourself.  You then reflect on the passage in that light – Jesus’ impact on you and your response to Jesus – meditate and pray.  It might look something like this:

Meditation, based on Luke 19:1-10

You entered Jericho and you were going through the town when I made my appearance. I was anxious to see what kind of man You were, but I was too short and could not see You for the crowd; so I ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of You, as You were to pass that way. When You reached the spot, You looked up and spoke to me: ‘Jane, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And I hurried down and welcomed You joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. ‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’ they said. But I stood my ground and said to You, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.’ And You said to me, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because here too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.’

Reflection

  • I heard You were coming and I rushed to be in Your presence.  Do I always rush to be in Your presence?  Am I always so eager?  If I am, do others know about it?
  • Luke says I climbed the tree because I was too short.  He was being charitable.  I climbed the tree because I wanted to keep You at a comfortable distance, and was perhaps a little afraid of coming closer, as I know what lies between us that should not be there.
  • But yet in love, You sought me.  You stepped off the path and through the space I’d created between us.  You called me by my name.  You told me to ‘hurry’!  You said you ‘must’ come to my house, such is Your love of me.
  • Your call, Your display of urgent love – love of me as an individual in this huge, huge crowd – compelled me to throw away my inhibitions.  I hurried down and welcomed You joyfully.  I withstood the hurtful comments from those in the crowd; beside Your love, what is their scorn?  Your immense love prompted me to get rid of the false gods in my life and make restitution for the sins of my previous life.

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for your immense, personal love of me.
Help me always to respond with love of You and of my neighbour.
My Lord, I know what I am capable of when I put my trust in You.
Give me confidence to put my trust in You always –
Take me and use me to build Your Kingdom in my tiny corner of the world.
Lord, I know that in my life there are those false gods that tend to creep in
and recreate a ‘comfortable’ distance between us again…
Please help me, Lord to be ‘calm but vigilant’,
to recognise the false gods for what they are
and – with the help of your grace – to have the courage to banish them.

Amen.

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