Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

God wants you to open the door of your heart, letting him in for a visit, perhaps a meal. Ironic, since God is always present WITHIN our hearts, yet God wants us to be a good host, allowing us the “welcome” a most important visitor. A couple of verses from today’s reading from the Book of Revelation, a painfully difficult book to read and understand, has God telling the people to open the doors of their hearts and he will enter. When we allow God on the inside, things begin to change.

In the gospel, Jesus literally asked Zaccheus to invite him INSIDE his home: “I MUST stay in your house,” Jesus says. And he does, all to the consternation and grumbling of the people OUTSIDE. When God doesn’t dwell within, we become judgemental and self righteous. Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus INSIDE his home, and Jesus entered INSIDE his heart and he changed. He became aware of the needs of the poor AND his dishonest dealings with tax money. Once we let God INSIDE our hearts and lives, everything changes: our perceptions, understanding of God, our religious observances, our relationship with others, our political leanings. We SEE unpleasant realities that lie within our hearts: our racist attitudes, an overly inflated ego, bitterness and refusal to forgive, apathy, addictive behaviors and dishonesty. These inner demons can’t stand it when God visits our hearts!!

After Jesus left the house of Zacchaeus, Jesus nonetheless REMAINED inside his heart. That is the hope from the story. It is presumed that Zacchaeus became a different human being who would change how he related to those angry, grumbling people outside his house. The proof is always in the pudding: did Zacchaeus ACT on what he promised?

On a side note: what did Jesus say to those people after he left the house of Zacchaeus? Did he even acknowledge their indignant attitude? But what is crystal clear is this: Jesus continued to mingle with the outsiders; he continued to be moved by sinners and those despised; he never let up or surrendered to the rigid attitudes of the religious authorities; he kept on walking to the Cross, his ultimate fate: facing the consequences of living out the very gospel that originated from his mission.

Jesus wants you to invite him INSIDE your heart, which means into your lives. But remember, there is always a cost, a price, that must be paid by each and everyone of us, depending on what inner demons lurk within. You know clearly that Gods’ visitation has mattered and that you have accepted the cost when you change, when you find yourself acting and thinking differently, when the people around you notice the changes.

Fr. Frank