Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things
Luke 19.1-10 – Zacchaeus the Tax Collector (New International Version)
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short, he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
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.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
St David or Dewi Sant, is the patron saint of Wales, and his shrine at St David’s cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries.
In 2012, on my summer holiday to Pembrokeshire, I visited St David’s cathedral, and despite coming from a tradition that does not really ‘do saints’, I saw St David’s shrine and immediately felt something. Something that I can’t describe, but which compelled me to kneel and to pray to Saint David.
It was an experience which has inspired me to return to the cathedral every year since on our family holiday to Pembrokeshire. I have returned to St David’s in what I can only call my personal pilgrimage, to pray at his shrine, and at each of the side altars and chapels.
In the twelfth century Pope Calixtus II declared St David’s Cathedral to be a place of pilgrimage. It was at this time that the medieval shrine was constructed and Pope Calixtus II also stated that the shrine was so important, that two pilgrimages to St David’s were equivalent to one to Rome, three were equivalent to one to Jerusalem.
I have never been fortunate enough to travel to Jerusalem to make a pilgrimage, but by my reckoning, I have made the equivalent journey twice and would have completed my third if only Covid-19 hadn’t intervened this year.
In St David’s final sermon to his followers he said:
“Be Joyful. Keep the Faith. Do the little things.”
Now this very short sentence has inspired me since then. It has always seemed such a Christlike way to live: to be joyful Christians. so that the world can see how wonderful Christ is. Plus I think that Jesus wasn’t above a joke or a pun himself, many of which we sadly no longer understand, in the way Jesus listeners then would have done. To follow Christ should be joyful.
However, this short sentence also tells us that that when times are difficult and we perhaps don’t feel so joyful, then we need to keep the faith.
“Keep the faith and do the little things.” Doing the little things makes me think of Jesus. For Jesus was concerned with the little things – he was totally focussed on the people in front of him, the individuals, that were hurting, or in pain, or sick.
Zacchaeus was literally a little thing – a small man – so small that he had to climb a tree to see Jesus over the crowds. But more importantly he was an ordinary person and Jesus saw that he was hurting: perhaps not physically hurting, but hurting with the sin of the bad life that he was leading.
Jesus immediately saw Zacchaeus’s need and went to tea with him. And through that simple action of Jesus visiting him, Zacchaeus was freed of his harmful way of life, made amends and changed himself.
Zacchaeus was a man of small importance in the grand scheme of things, but Jesus met him where he was and changed him.
Jesus showed us – and St David reminded us – that it is the little things we do and say that impact the world and those around us, and that make the love of Jesus shine in the world. A smile and laugh or a small good deed makes the Christ light shine.
“Be joyful, keep the faith and do the little things.”
Associate Hub Leader