THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for Tuesday, November 15th, 2016
Memorial of St. Albert the Great
Liturgical texts here
WHEN Jesus passes by Zacchaeus, He not only tells him to come down from his tree, but Jesus says: Come down quickly! Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, one that few of us exercise perfectly. But when it comes to pursuing God, we should be impatient! We should never hesitate to follow Him, to run toward Him, to assail Him with a thousand tears and prayers. After all, this is what lovers do…
On the other hand, God is very patient with us. I mean, He too pursues us, and relentlessly. But when He finds our hearts closed, our doors shut, He simply stands there and knocks in a thousand different ways.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. (Today’s first reading)
Why did Jesus say “quickly” to Zacchaeus? Because no one knows human nature better than Our Lord. He knows that we are indecisive, lazy, doubtful, and constantly tempted to stay perched on the limb of our own free will. So when Jesus comes by, offering a new grace, a new start, a new direction, He says to you and me, “Come, quickly!” Listen to Him… don’t take these graces and opportunities to repent, to begin again, for granted. Don’t say, “Ah, I’m not that bad a person…”
For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked… Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. (Today’s first reading)
I just finished reading the autobiography of Mirjana Soldo, one of the six seers of the Medjugorje apparitions. It is a wonderful, humble book with a rare insight into the life and experiences of someone who allegedly sees the Blessed Virgin Mary. What touched me most was how Mirjana, despite seeing Our Lady once a month in an indescribable encounter of grace… still has to work out her salvation like everyone else. Our Lady does not relieve her of her crosses, trials, and need for deep faith just because she sees her. No, Mirjana—like Zaccaheus—has had to choose to trust Jesus, pick up her crosses, and follow Him like everyone else through the valley of the shadow of death. Like Peter, after the Transfiguration and seeing Jesus, Moses and Elijah in an apparition of glory… the seer is still as vulnerable and capable of denying Christ as anyone else. I can tell you also that, despite the sometimes extraordinary graces and infusions of light that I have received in this writing apostolate that, when they have subsided, I am once again left subject to the gravity of my flesh, to life’s trials, and the reality that, like everyone else, I must decide daily to “come out of my tree” and follow Jesus. There is no shortcut to eternity: the way passes through the Cross for everyone.
So today, Jesus is passing you by, right this moment. He is knocking on the door of your heart. Open your heart, while you are still on earth, when you can still say yes to eternal life. Or, He says…
If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you. (Today’s first reading)
I sense Him saying,
Here I am, don’t be afraid. Don’t hide behind the door of your heart. Don’t hide in the tree of fear. Rather come down, quickly. Open your heart to Me. Let me in, yes, even into the messiness of your house, the disorder of your soul, and let me dine with you. I choose hearts that are imperfect precisely so that I may perfect them! Do not be afraid, for I am all-powerful, able to conquer your greatest fears, able to break your greatest bondage, able to heal your deepest sorrows. But I say to you now: quickly child! Do not hesitate any longer to welcome Me into your heart. For you do not know the day nor the hour when, having passed you by, it will be too late to let Love into your home and heart. I am Jesus, and I will never fail you. But it is up to you to open the door of your free will to Me.
Come, quickly my brother! Go fast, my sister! Run to Him, as you are. Today is the day of salvation. Welcome Him, in all your weakness and sinfulness, trusting in His love and forgiveness. And then He too will say to you,
Today salvation has come to this house… For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost. (Today’s Gospel)
And like Zacchaeus, repent and truly mend your ways, so that the Master will always find a home in your heart.
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