Passing Through Jericho
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 he was going to pass that way. Luke 18: 1-4
Last Sunday we met the humble tax collector who stands “far off” at the Temple beating his breast in repentance. This Sunday we meet the bold tax collector who forces his way above the crowd to meet Jesus. In spite of “boos” from the crowd, Zacchaeus stands firm before Jesus and the indignant onlookers.
When our faithful perseverance meets God’s faithful perseverance great joy and blessed reversals follow. Perhaps we can see Zacchaeus’ boldness as the fruit of the humble prayer for mercy. Once we meet mercy within ourselves true conversion can follow. Meeting mercy brings us to our true selves as beloved of children of God. All our other identities are subordinate to this. Acts of repentance reveal this identity and strengthen it. In telling the crowd that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham too, Jesus situates his identity in the community of Israel’s faithful.
These two tax collectors show us that meeting God as we really are, is the basis for responding to God as we can be. In discerning a vocation to religious life or priesthood, especially these days, there is a huge crowd that will provide discouragement, ridicule and ambivalence to your seeking to draw close to Jesus. There is also a HUGE crowd of distractions to interfere with meeting God each day in prayer. Persevere and put yourself in position, in a tree, cave or desert if necessary, in order to meet the persevering Spirit of God, cause of all true joy. The renewal of identity based on mercy makes us not care what the crowd says about us.
Faithful perseverance led Zacchaeus to mount the Sycamore Tree and Jesus’ perseverance to mount the tree of the cross. From the tree of the cross Jesus sees and meets all humanity just as we are. From the tree of the cross comes the mercy that liberates us to become what we are to become: disciples who find joy in reversing the effects of our sin on the world.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Canada Province.
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment.