- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

November 19, 2019

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

33rd Tuesday in Ordinary Time
2 Maccabees 6: 18 – 31; Ps 3; Luke 19: 1 – 10

In the Rule St. Benedict reminds us of God’s admonition: “Turn aside from evil and do good; seek after peace and pursue it. And when you have done these things, my eyes will be upon you…” (Prologue 18) and St. Benedict teaches: “We believe that the Divine Presence is everywhere and “the eyes of the Lord in every place look upon the good and the evil” (Proverbs 15: 3 in RB 19: 1)

Today’s Gospel, I believe, presents a commentary, a revelation on the Lord’s presence, specifically on His gaze upon us. We are told that Jesus intended to pass through Jericho but plans change when He is drawn to a tree where a man is perched. Zacchaeus has one desire, a simple one, just to see this Jesus he’s heard about – nothing more.

This simple desire is surely sensed by Jesus so that He is moved to do much more than pass by. Jesus cannot not stop – He looks up – He sees Zacchaeus who had to be shocked, perhaps almost losing his balance. Gazing upon this man as if no one else exists, Jesus’ love, mercy, goodness, attention is totally directed to him.

The personal experience of the Lord’s presence, His gaze upon us – upon each one of us is so unique, so personal, so gracious as if no one else exists. Only the love of God is such, has such power, is so magnanimous. One can only hold it in wonder, in admiration because it infinitely exceeds our understanding, it overwhelms our poverty and nothing can separate us from it as far as God is concerned.

First the look, then the words – “Zacchaeus, come down quickly for I must stay at your home!” In that invitation, actually a command, two words jump out – “Quickly” and “Must” – they speak of passion, of ardent mercy and Jesus’ divine need – His divine freedom – to give Himself.

Through Zacchaeus Jesus speaks to you, to me, to all – “Come to Me quickly – do not hesitate – come for I must stay with you.” St. Benedict urges us to respond: “And let us open our eyes to the deifying light ; let us attune our ears to what his divine voice admonishes us, daily crying out: “Today if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Ps 95: 7 – 8)