By Pamela Patnode
He entered Jericho and was passing through it.~Luke 19:1
“Watch this, mommy! Watch this!” Upon hearing these words from the young boy on the playground, I looked up to see what he was about to do. The 5-year-old boy and his young mother were the only people at the park that morning as I walked our dogs. The youngster climbed the ladder and, on tiptoes, stretched to grasp hold of the first monkey bar. He swung himself across the apparatus with tremendous effort, successfully reaching the other side. He beamed with pride as he looked at his mother. “Did you see that, mommy? Did you see that?” The child’s mother had been engrossed in her phone. Nonchalantly, she looked up, smiled briefly, and said, “Nice job, honey,” before returning her gaze to her phone.
Am I Present to Others?
What this young mother did not see as she stared at her phone was the smile on her proud son’s face drop into disappointment as he realized that his mommy had neither seen nor cared much about his Herculean feat. My heart broke.
The beginning of today’s gospel is profoundly important. The gospel says that Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. But then He noticed Zacchaeus in the tree and changed His plans. AND – His noticing Zacchaeus and spending time with him filled Zacchaeus with joy.
We are called to do the same. We, too, are called to notice others and to be willing to alter our daily plans and agendas to be present to them.
This gospel is an important reminder to me. I am a “type A personality,” someone who makes schedules and can be distracted and, therefore, misses opportunities to engage with those God puts in my path. But I believe now, possibly more than ever, we need to be present to others.
What does being present look like?
The mother at the park missed the opportunity to be present to her young son. This incident caused me to wonder how often I have done the same. It made me realize that I need to be deliberate about looking up from the newspaper, phone, television, or computer screen when my spouse or child speaks to me. It has reminded me to review my schedule each day and question whether it has become too full to consider who could benefit from a phone call, a handwritten note in the mail, an invitation to meet for coffee, or (even) a smile and a greeting.
Today’s gospel reminds me to be conscious of those around me. Our faith is a faith of Presence, and it is crucial to discern how I can be present to those whom God places in my life.
God, my heart is filled with gratitude for the relationships in my life. Please help me be attentive to others and willing to adjust my schedule to be present to those you put in my path.
Call to Action
Today, consider who needs our presence and in what way. Then, reach out to someone with a smile, a phone call, or a handwritten message.
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