On Bedtime Stories and Sycamore Trees ~ Br. Christian Angelo Ventura, Novice

May we speak the Word and hear it; through the intercession of St. Dominic

and in the ✠ Name of the One who Was, and Is, and is to come. Amen.

To begin, today’s Gospel tells of the story of Zacchaeus, who climbed the sycamore tree in order to see Jesus.  Perhaps you are familiar with the children’s song: 

Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a  wee little man was he.  He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.  And as the Saviour passed that way, He looked up in the tree.  And He said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down, for I’m going to your house today.’

Whenever I happen to listen to this excerpt of Luke’s Gospel, I am always reminded of the curious tale of Jack and his beloved beanstalk. Quite frankly, it was my least favorite children’s book, with the Very Hungry Caterpillar taking first place for me, likely due to its friendlier plot. Although I reflect on the former, perhaps, due to the theme of elevating oneself to treacherous heights to get a glimpse of the unknown, out of pure awe and ungovernable curiosity. I mean, how true is this theme in our personal lives? On our own, we are short-handed, and sometimes endeavor on using intermediates to set us on to new heights.

Although unlike Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, our Loving Saviour, Christ, does not seek to grind our bones to make his bread. Rather, in today’s Gospel, He calls Zacchaeus by name to come down and feast on the Bread of Life in the company of the Lord Himself and His disciples.

As Halloween approaches in particular, many people innocently entertain mystics and fortune tellers out of a curious impulse to tap into the divine. Maybe it is to seek comfort during hardship or spiritual advice for the path forward. And, while historical Christianity has long condemned the practices of divination as the crime of the century, what is most interesting to me is the spark of curiosity that pushes people to seek in the first place. The “principle spark”, if you will.

Is God constantly calling us to seek a fruitful relationship with Him, abundant in love and mercy? We ought to believe so! In fact, we know this to be very true, that our God is so eager to be in regular relationship with us. I particularly like the way Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin puts it, “the thing you are seeking is causing you to seek it”.

I urge us, in our daily examen, to pause and reflect on what it is that we are truly seeking. Zacchaeus was a corrupt tax collector that defrauded many for his riches before he sincerely turned to Christ by the workings of the Holy Spirit. It begs asking how we are filling our voids, maneuvering our curiosities, and climbing on to our sycamore trees when Jesus stands right there in the foreground before us saying…

“take, eat”(Matthew 26:26).

When He says…

“Do not be afraid…

I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

Whatsoever it is that we are truly seeking; can it only be remedied by the gracious love of our loving Father in heaven? Well, we ought to believe so! Even in our unworthiness, He is steadfast to embrace us wherever we are in our journey with Him.

I am reminded of when the Centurion exclaimed “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed” (Luke 7: 6-7).

And so, my brothers and sisters, make haste to come down from your sycamore trees, for the Lord is already here to stay at your house and has come to seek and save the lost.