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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Jenkins

What Would You Go Out On A Limb For?

“…so he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him…” Lk 19:4

Two thousand years ago in the Palestinian town of Jericho, a sinner and a seeker named Zacchaeus did a risky thing: he broke from the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree because he wanted to see Jesus, Who was passing by. And the unexpected happened! Jesus, looked up, called him down from the tree, and invited Himself to his house. In that brief encounter with Christ, Zacchaeus’ life was changed immediately and profoundly. A seasoned tax collector and extortioner, a despised sinner, he unhesitatingly promised to give half of his wealth to the poor and to repay fourfold anyone whom he had defrauded. His heart was changed, and his life was changed forever by that encounter. An early Church tradition says that Zacchaeus became the first bishop of Caesarea. From a hated collaborator with the enemy to a disciple proclaiming forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ, Zacchaeus shows us the power of Jesus to truly transform our lives. We all have a lot to learn from Zacchaeus, as told in his story in the Gospel of Luke (19:1-10)

Modern-day seekers (and sinners) still want to see Jesus. They, too, risk breaking from the crowd to “climb a sycamore tree” - to go out on a limb - to meet Him in a place of solitude, prayer and encounter. Jesus still sees and calls by name each one who seeks Him. Jesus says “no one can come to me unless the Father draws Him" (John6:44). The tug that Zacchaeus felt inside was the grace of God drawing him to his Son. God "tugs" at many hearts still, drawing them to go off the beaten path to meet the Savior of the world.

Zacchaeus’ story should be the story of us all. Jesus enters the world as Savior for all, but he desires to commune personally with every son and daughter of God. He is always seeking us. As He says elsewhere, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). We have to open the door of our heart…or to climb the tree…to see him.

The Sycamore Tree Catholic Retreat Center of the Diocese of Helena exists to provide a place of solitude and silence, where one enters into a deeper personal encounter with Christ. We also host occasional group conferences with a visiting presenter. Individuals can make a private retreat tailored to the needs and preferences of each retreatant. We invite you to come away from the crowd, from the noise and distractions of our frenetic world, and to be with Jesus. You may meet Him in the solitude of a private cabin, in silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, or on a quiet walk in the “cathedral of the woods” that surround us.

The Sycamore Tree is uniquely located in the magnificent Swan Valley of Northwest Montana.   Known as the “Valley of the Hush,” the surrounding national forest lands provide a protected place of beauty and contemplation - a place of healing and peace - a place of encounter with God. Come and see!

To learn more about The Sycamore Tree and its different retreat opportunities, please visit our website at

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