As we approach Holy Week, this is our last Lenten meditation... Jesus approaches Zacchaeus as he, too, approaches Holy Week. We hope this practice offers some comfort to you this day.
Visio Divina, “divine seeing” is similar to Lectio Divina, “divine reading,” which we’ve done
before. Visio Divina is a way for us to slow down and listen to a passage while meditating
on an image that compliments the scripture.
We’ve done some of these together as a group this year, so the prompts and instructions should hopefully be somewhat familiar. If this is your first time doing this practice, don’t worry. There isn’t a perfect way to do this – the main goal is just to slow down, sit with scripture, and allow the text and artwork to illuminate thoughts and feelings that arise. Sit with what you need to, breathe… and be. Whether 15 minutes or 50, spend however long you’d like here. Invite a friend or family member to join you or use it as a solo exercise.
Let’s begin our practice. Read the questions below followed by the scripture passage. (If you have time, you might want to read the passage twice.)
What do you hear? What word or phrase or thought stands out to you in this passage?
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector (from the Gospel of Luke)
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Now, reflect on the following questions while looking at the painting that complements the scripture:
What do you see? (You may want to zoom in.) What parts of the image are your eyes drawn to, and what parts did you quickly brush by? How does the image reflect on the scripture?
Next, take a look at the statement Hannah Garrity wrote about painting this piece:
Seeing, taking notice, acknowledging, lifting up—Jesus did all of these things as he looked up at Zacchaeus, calling him down, resting love and responsibility on his shoulders. I teach middle school art. I have spent this school year testing the waters. Each day I try a new collection of inputs for various situations. The most effective one is to stop in at every single student’s seat to have a personal conversation with them. In these conversations, I reiterate the assignment, glean information about what the student plans to do, and answer any questions. The byproduct is positive productivity.
Is it because I’ve shown that I care? Is it because I’ve clarified the expectations? Is it because I simply acknowledged their existence in the room? Is it because I saw them? Middle schoolers don’t realize that you can hear and see them from across the room. Their maturity level is simply not there yet. In this image, Jesus looks up with grace. A shimmer of gold on his skin represents the presence of God in him. He takes notice of a selfish, greedy, and immature adult. Zacchaeus’ actions make me think he did not mature much after middle school. By the standards of society, exhibited by the comments of those around him, this man does not deserve to be acknowledged. When he is finally seen, all of his immaturity melts away. He immediately rises to the occasion. Take notice, acknowledge, lift up. See.
Consider the following questions as you reflect on Hannah’s artist’s statement and the painting.
What emotions emerge when you observe this painting? Do you identify with the artist’s reflections? If you were to paint this text, what colors or details might you include?
Some final words from Lindsey:
I don’t think I’ve ever related to Zacchaeus, until now. Holed up in our house, I do feel short and like I’m not enough; I can’t see or contribute to what’s going on in the world. All I feel like I can do is climb up into Twitter or Instagram… and sometimes we need that connection: a silly meme that we can share or good news of folks finding ways to love each other… and other times, we really do need Jesus to tell us to come down from that. Social media isn’t often helpful for ridding me of feelings of helplessness. And I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to spiral from there, from feelings of helplessness—feeling like there’s nothing good I can do—to starting to feel like I’m no good. And then I can spend a great deal of time in my head kicking myself for things I haven’t done, don’t think I did well or could’ve done. Jesus, I really need to be told to come down.
And thank God, Jesus does that. Jesus sees us. Even hiding in our trees, on our phones, Jesus calls to us. Jesus says to come down and have a meal and dwell with Him. What does that look like for us? Spend some time thinking about it. How does Jesus dwell with us while we’re eating a third box of mac and cheese, filling out paperwork online, or trying to finish a project? …Would I feel differently if I remembered that Jesus is calling us and doesn’t care if we’re lost… or what I’ve done or haven’t done?! Zacchaeus seems to say so.