SABBATH REFLECTION - Luke 18:9-14 - 27th October, 2019 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
The DESIRE to ‘see’ is extraordinarily powerful. All Zacchaeus wanted was to ‘catch a glimpse of Jesus’, and it was ENOUGH – Jesus did the rest and announced that ‘….I must stay at your house today…’
Do we know such a ‘desire’ in our own lives? Do we go out of our way to catch a glimpse of Jesus or do we find ourselves possibly running in the opposite direction, hoping to be left alone? We may not want our lives to change or be disturbed - we may not want to enter into the Mystery of meeting Jesus and all the unknowns that may bring with it - we may not want to be branded by others as a ‘God botherer’ – we just want to stay in the nice comfortable life we have made for ourselves. We can place a great big ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ notice firmly nailed to the entrance of our Hearts. Where do I/we sit in all this?
Then we have those who are comfortably living the status quo and along comes this upstart called Jesus, who dares to shake up our comfortable life by reaching out to the worst of the worst (a senior tax collector and a wealthy man because of his unjust occupation) and then insisting that he come over and have a meal and meet Zacchaeus’s family. ‘Not on’ was the cry of the establishment – ‘he has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’. Hang on they think, we are the virtuous ones – we are the ones who abide by all the rules and expectations, he should be coming to our house, not those sinners over there. And yet, did they invite Jesus, did they seek just a ‘glimpse’? For those who did not have this ‘desire’ to ‘see’ Jesus, their life was one of judgement, conformity, exclusion and self-preservation at all costs.
But for Zacchaeus, it took this one encounter with Jesus, along with his ‘desire’ to encounter Jesus, and his life was transformed. He went from ripping people off to giving back four times what he had unjustly taken, and to then share his wealth with the poor. This turn around in Zacchaeus came from that deep place of Love that he discovered lived within him. It was from here he could no longer live the life he had lived. He had experienced something extraordinary. In a very real way he had discovered ‘the pearl of great price’, and it had a value greater than anything he had known. This is what he had longed for all his life, but he didn’t know what it was until he opened his Heart to ‘glimpse it’.
In Daniel O’Leary’s most beautiful book called ‘An Astonishing Secret’ he speaks of the ‘thin places’. He says that in Celtic spirituality these places are ‘where the heavens and the earth are very close to each other.’ Zacchaeus experienced this ‘thin place’. We too must experience this ‘thin place’ if we are to be transformed into the Heart of Love. Our ‘desire’ for this ‘thin place’ is the path that will lead us directly to its door and oh wonder of wonders when it is opened!
Most of us, and probably all of us, have had experiences of these ‘thin places’. Sometimes they get lost to our consciousness because we do not recognise them and they flash past us like a bolt of lightning, and then it is gone. But most likely we never really forget the experience/s, we just don’t know what to do with them, or understand what they mean, or what they may be inviting us into, or we just choose to ignore them. But if we gather together all those ‘thin places’ experiences we have had over our lives, and we ponder their beauty and mystery and sometimes their agony too, we just might become aware of a desire in our Hearts to catch a ‘glimpse’ of their Source. What a Grace this is.
Many of us too have practices that consciously place us within these ‘thin places’ almost on a daily basis. It might be our daily prayer/meditation time - it might be a simple early morning or late evening walk along the beach or in a woodland that puts us in touch with the sheer beauty and wonder of nature - it could be a beautiful garden or watching the truthfulness and curiosity of a young child unfold – it could be a conscious daily intention to try and Love no matter what, it could be any number of things that awaken our consciousness to those ‘thin places’ all around us. When for whatever reason we are not connecting with these ‘thin places’ (that are everywhere) our Hearts ache in their absence, and we do not know why they ache. We come to know something is missing in our lives, our ‘desire’ grows for what once gave us Life in those extraordinary ‘glimpses’ – but it seems we can so easily forget.
In the week ahead open your Heart to re-discover or – re-commit or re-connect yourself to those ‘thin places’ that have touched you deeply during your life from when you were a small child to the present moment. Savour these experiences and allow the natural desire within you to rise through all your resistances and all your doubts and then like Zacchaeus do whatever you can to just ‘catch a glimpse’ of that Spirit of Love and then live into the surprise of this wildly wonderful and Life-giving encounter with Love itself. ©Annemarie. Reiner