A Personal Encounter With Jesus
It was crowded in Jericho this particular day. News was buzzing around that Jesus would be passing through. Maybe he would preach again; I had heard him in other nearby towns. His words were always captivating and His gaze would hold you where you felt like He could see the deepest parts of you. I stayed around to see if I could hear Him again.
As Jesus approached the center of town, the crowds grew thicker. I noticed, a short distance from me, a man climbing a tree. As I got a better look at this man, I realized I had seen him before; he was Zacchaeus, one of the chief tax collectors. I found it a bit strange that this man, given his occupation, would want to hear Jesus. Well, not just hear Him, but he obviously wanted to see Jesus as well.
I began to wonder even more about why Zacchaeus had climbed that tree. After all, if he could see Jesus from that vantage point then it would be likely that Jesus would notice him. Did he really want that to happen?
I decided I would approach him and ask him myself about his reasons, but as I began to walk toward the tree, Jesus also began to walk toward it; this stopped me dead in my tracks.
What happened next was truly amazing; Jesus called to Zacchaeus by name and told him to come down out of the tree because He wished to dine with him in his home. Most of the people in that crowd knew who and what Zacchaeus was and they hated him for it. Tax collectors were not the most popular people around.
Now I had heard about people having instant changes of heart where they gave up their sorted ways, but I had never seen it happen before my very eyes before. This day I would. Zacchaeus stood before Jesus and told Him he would give half of what he had to the poor and return anything he had extorted from anyone. I had hear these stories of instant repentance before with others who had personal encounters with Jesus.
Jesus and Zacchaeus headed off for Zacchaeus' home. The crowd, still mumbling and grumbling, began to disperse. I began my own walk home and thought much on the way. I thought about my own life, my own sins, and how I wished to have a personal encounter with Jesus. I thought about how brave Zacchaeus was to not only join the crowd, but put himself in a place where he was actually showing himself to Jesus. Then I thought about what Jesus said to Zacchaeus before they walked off; Jesus told him that salvation had come to his house this day. In essence, Zacchaeus was forgiven.
Maybe that is the key to mine and anyone else's personal encounter with Jesus~ we need to have the faith and the courage to show ourselves to Him as we are with a repentant heart. Jesus always seems drawn to those who are sinful but repentant.
It is at this point that I recall earlier words from Scripture. The book of Wisdom tells us that the Lord is the lover of souls and He rebukes sinners little by little, warning and reminding them of their sins. My only response to this can be to praise Him, my king and my God.
My Dear Lord Jesus, lover of my soul, may I never be afraid to show myself to you as I am. May I always be open to the conviction by Your Holy Spirit so as to seek Your mercy and forgiveness for all my sins.
May I praise and bless your name forever.
*Reflection based on Mass readings for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time.