November 4, 2007 Year C
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time/23rd Sunday after Pentecost
Reflections on the Readings
By Dennis Hankins
Wisdom 11:22-12 – 12:2; Psalm 145:1-2, 10-11, 13, 14
2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2; Luke 19:1-10
Theme: In The Loving Eyes of God
God is not mad at you!
It is common to find those who believe that God in the Old Testament is old, mean, and grumpy who becomes loving, kind and merciful in the New Testament. Today's readings remind us that God is love. He always has been and always will be the God who so loved us because He is not willing that anyone should perish. The loving gaze of the Father is ever upon us.
Not only us, but also everything that is seen and unseen benefits from the gaze of His affection. After creating all things and man in His image, God rested. This rest is not from tiredness. Rather this rest is a sign of God in Himself hallowing all creation that is from Him and exists because of his good pleasure. And to this rest we are invited, all who labor and are heavy laden. Why do we have this affinity for this Holy Fellowship? For thy immortal spirit is in all things. (Wisdom 12:1)
To be sure our sins and sinfulness are an offense to him. However, we are not, as the Puritan Pastor Jonathan Edwards describes as Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. A careful reading of today's scriptures reveals the longsuffering of God. He loves all things that are and loathes nothing that He has made. Indeed it is with great affection that he corrects offenders little by little. Again, we do not serve a God reluctant to save us. He reminds and warns us of our sins, that we might put our trust in the Lord.
It is in today's Gospel where this comes together for us. Jesus looked with love upon Zacchaeus. Our Lord calls this little man down from the tree and invites himself to Zaachaeus' house for dinner. The result is no less than salvation visited upon this family, because the Son of Man seeks and saves the lost.
For love's sake we were created, and because of love we have been redeemed. With eyes of love the Good Shepherd seeks for us, and upon finding us, leads us into the abyss of his love. Love made us, love found us, and love will never let us go. A song from the church of my youth says,
I was seeking deep in sin
Far from the peaceful shore.
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more.
But the Master of the Sea, Heard my despairing Cry!
And from the waters lifted me now safe am I.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me. When nothing else could help, love lifted me. Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help. Love! Lifted! Me!
St Paul prays for the Thessalonians that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul's prayer is reminiscent of this preface to the Eucharistic Prayer in Ordinary time:
So great was your love that you gave us your Son as our redeemer. You sent him as one like ourselves, though free from sin, that you might see and love in us what you see and love in Christ. Your gifts of grace, lost by disobedience, are now restored by the obedience of you Son.
He who never slumbers or sleeps, keeps watch over us with eyes filled with love and affection.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, help me to respond to your loving gaze by ever keeping you before my eyes. Ever look upon your servant and watch over me lest I dash my foot against a stone. And ever make my eyes be filled with love so that I may see. Amen.