29th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Anniversary Of The Dedication Of Our Church
1 Kings 8: 22 – 23, 27 – 30; 1 Peter 2: 4 – 9; Luke 19: 1 – 10
Even a cursory reading of St. Luke’s Gospel reveals St. Luke as a “people-person.” Again and again he introduces us to men and women who were affected by Jesus’ ministry, drawn to Him; some he names. In today’s Gospel we meet one, a chief tax-collector, short in stature but not in wealth and power.
In the passage there is a lot of activity, of movement both on Zacchaeus’ and Jesus’ part. Zacchaeus is moved to see Jesus, throws prestige to the wind, climbs a tree and waits. Jesus is moved to see Zacchaeus, stops, looks up , gazes directly at Zacchaeus with a “divine” smile on His face; imagine the tax collectors shock when Jesus says, “Come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house” – notice the strength of Jesus’ word “I must stay at your house!” Surely, the message is; Zacchaeus, you are important to me.
The Gospel is both a beautiful human story and a wondrous divine encounter. This man, judged a sinner by his own, becomes the host of the Lord while the scandalized crowd is incredulous. This man striving to do the right with his life is now richly gifted with salvation, the salvation that is Jesus Christ Himself, the Divine One whose whole person is totally dedicated to seeking and saving anyone and everyone. What happens is a sacred encounter – a man with desire acts upon it and the Lord responds to this desire with His very presence, His saving presence.
Today in celebrating the Anniversary of the Dedication of this Abbey Church this Gospel is most fitting. Here in this church, its very walls anointed with oil, its space blessed with holy water – like a baptism, we are given a place of sacred encounter. Like Zacchaeus, with desire in our hearts we come and the Lord, who graces us with this desire, by His Eucharistic Presence is always present to embrace us, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people of His own.”
Clearly, there are at least two things required of us – to take time to prepare for this encounter in calling to mind what we are about and to spend each day in the grateful, heartfelt, response of faith, hope and love because the Lord desires to stay with you, with me. It is a must for Him. We praise Him who comes to save the lost and in humility we can thank Him that by His mercy which we receive in this Church we are not among the lost anymore – rather, by that same wondrous mercy we are being saved more and more deeply, more completely as “a people of His own.”