The Gospel for October 30th, 2016: “Zacchaeus the Tax Collector”
Reflection: Climbing the Prayer Tree
As the home page of this blog site suggests, I experienced a conversion in 2013 where I decided to return with a renewed commitment to the Catholic faith of my upbringing and place Christ at the center of my life. While I didn’t begin blogging until 2015, one of the early steps in that transformation was to, on the advice of Matthew Kelly, bring a prayer journal to mass each week and write down what God is saying to me, a practice I have found helpful and continue to do. One of those early journal entries that has stuck in my memory was from November 3rd, 2013, when the reading about Zacchaeus the Tax Collector last appeared in the gospel cycle.
I would like to share what I wrote in that entry for this reflection because it speaks to me this week as I find myself sliding into a state of worldly busy-ness similar to three years ago. Here was my response then to the gospel about Zacchaeus:
He overcomes his short stature to “see” the Lord by climbing the tree. This effort is rewarded. Jesus sees him and “calls” him despite his sins. He asks to stay at Zacchaeus’s house. By answering His call, Zacchaeus experiences conversion and salvation. Prayer is my tree. I must climb over my pride and vanity.
A recent decline in my prayer life has had a negative effect. In an effort to be less selfish and more helpful to others, I have said yes to many new commitments since 2013, especially in the last few months. Consequently, I have noticed I am praying less each week, becoming more desensitized to sin, and reverting back to earlier destructive habits. Unlike earlier in my life, the commitments I have taken on have not been motivated by ambition for personal glory. Nevertheless, they hold the same potential for distracting me from God’s will in my life. Certainly, a growing presence of sin is not a sign I am listening. As Zacchaeus made the effort to climb the tree to see Jesus, I need to make the effort to slow down, even if it means saying no once in awhile, to give myself time and energy for prayer so that I may move toward Jesus too. I tend to think my spiritual growth will progress in a steady manner toward Christ. I realize now it is a struggle with starts and stops, ebb and flow. Winning this struggle depends on the discipline of prayer. So reminiscent of Zacchaeus, I need to climb the prayer tree once again and re-establish habits that keep Christ at the center.