Zacchaeus. . . was seeking to see who Jesus was.
Why was the town’s chief tax collector so eager to catch a glimpse of Jesus? Perhaps he was just curious, or maybe he just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Whatever the case, this fellow, who got rich off the sweat of his neighbors, was so intent on seeing Jesus that he climbed a sycamore tree.
Like Zacchaeus, many holy men and women began their journey to Christ mired in sin but curious about the Lord. Thomas Merton, the twentieth-century Trappist monk, mystic, and writer, was a confused young man without direction. According to his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, he drank heavily, spent money freely, and was involved in numerous illicit relationships. But he was also a seeker. Through a number of mentors and spiritual books, Merton caught a glimpse of Jesus, and that changed everything for him.
Another modern-day seeker was Dorothy Day. An idealistic young woman, she longed for a more just society and looked to politics and economic policy for solutions. Day lived a bohemian lifestyle, had an abortion, and then lived with another man and bore his child out of wedlock. Eventually she found God, and became a tireless champion of the Church’s teachings on social justice.
If you had known Merton or Day before their conversions, would you have seen a person who was seeking God? Or would you have dismissed them because of how they were living? The point is this: we can’t judge people by their outward behaviors. Like Zacchaeus, Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day, they may be searching for something—or Someone—that gives their lives meaning and purpose.
So if you know anyone who is engaged in sinful or destructive behaviors, don’t distance yourself. You might be just the one to give that person a glimpse of the Lord! Maybe this will happen as you befriend her and quietly show her what Jesus means to you. Maybe it will happen by lending him a book to read or suggesting a movie to watch. It could even come about through an invitation to Mass.
God wants everyone who is seeking him to find him. And he just might use you to lead the way!
Word Among Us