By: Fr. John Henry
“He climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. Jesus looked up and said, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly.’”
It is always interesting to see where people are when Jesus calls them, when he knocks on their door. Our Lady was in prayer at the Annunciation. Others find themselves in very awkward, unprayerful situations. Zacchaeus was in a tree when the Lord summoned him. St. Paul was on the road to Damascus, hoping to arrest as many Christians as he could lay hands on. Lazarus, the Lord’s friend, was cold in the tomb when he was commanded to come out. Simon Peter hung over the edge of a boat on a stormy sea when the Lord said, “Come to me across the water.”
They all have something in common: They were listening. Even if the Lord had to startle their ears open, as in Saul’s case, they were still reachable. Are we that reachable? Do we have ears to hear?
If Jesus were to pass by right now, and call you as he called Zacchaeus, where would he find you right now? Are you too busy? Too preoccupied and anxious? Too absorbed by something to discern the Master’s voice? Like Saul, are you charging down a path that you shouldn’t be on? In a tomb without hope? Hanging on the edge of something, hoping for something? Or like Zacchaeus: standing on the sidelines as a spectator, not sure how involved you want to get? Would he say to you, “Come down from there,” or, “Come over to me,” or simply, “Stop what you’re doing”?
The Lord says that he comes like a thief. That’s not a consoling idea. It’s not supposed to be. Thieves break in and take your valuables by force. If you want to know where you are right now, where the Lord-Thief might find you, ask yourself: “What am I afraid of losing?” Is it: “Lord, please don’t take my time, my comfort, my projects, my security”?
Ask yourself what valuables you are afraid of losing, and that will tell you where you are right now. It will tell you how God is speaking to you right now. It will tell you what you should listen for. It will explain why he probably keeps sending you the same messages each day. When something keeps happening to us and we can’t figure out why; when people keep telling us the same things about ourselves and we can’t believe it; when certain events or circumstances beyond our control keep occurring and annoying us; when we keep trying to do something and keep failing and feeling frustrated; could it be the Lord banging on your door? “I stand here and knock. I’m not going anywhere. Open up, get down from there, come out, come to me.”
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Hearing the Lord’s voice and opening to him… We’ve all gotten used to listening to many voices. Every media voice, every commercial or advertisement for something, has the same message: “Come to me, and I will give you [something].” What will we get? A good deal, a good time, a good feeling, the day’s gossip. Someone or something promises to make us feel important, attractive, smart, etc.
Only one voice rings true. Only one voice can call us out of darkness and into a marvelous light. Only one voice has the authority to compel a rich man into a tree and then down again. The Lord passes by as we sit in our tree, or tomb, as we expectantly perch on the starboard side, and he offers us nothing we’ve seen advertised on TV or internet. Instead he declares salvation: “The Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.” If we can leave behind the places and things we cling to for safety and identity, that salvation will be as much ours as it was Zacchaeus’.