The feasts of All Saints and All Souls have ushered in the last month of the Church’s Year. In the Gospels Jesus is nearing the end of his pilgrimage, and as he does the Church turns our eyes towards two other ends, encompassed by his own: the end of each of our individual lives and beyond it the end of time itself. As we pray for all who have died before us over the month, the themes of death, judgment and resurrection will become more and more predominant in the readings. But before all this today’s readings set before us the great truth that should always be present to our minds as we think and pray about our end: the immense and merciful love of God for us, seeking out and saving the lost.
The 1st reading grounds our certainty about this on creation itself. In his luminous faith this saint of the Old Covenant recognises in the very fact of our existing and continuing in being proof of God’s irreversible love for each one of us: “You love all things that are and hate nothing you have made, for you never would have made anything if you had hated it. And how could a thing persist had you not willed it, how be conserved if not called forth by you?” To be created is to be personally willed, loved into existence by God: and not at some particular moment in the past but right now. How is it then that we remain so little convinced of this love? – we, who live under the New Covenant, who, like Zacchaeus in the Gospel, know God not only as Creator, but as the one who has come to “seek out and save what was lost” and enter into the very house and heart of the sinner?
The truths of faith become luminous and convincing, true for us, only in the measure that something is ventured on the basis of the light they bring. We all “know” that we are going to die one day, but this truth only progressively becomes real for us in the measure that we are actually confronted with it in our lives. Just so as believers we may think ourselves in “possession” of the truth of God’s love, the truth that alone can allow us to face our mortality, but it will become a force in our lives only in our venturing to act as though the Gospel were true. The more we do, the more we stake our lives on it, the more this truth will possess us. It will become the vehicle of an encounter which changes us, as it did Zacchaeus: all the buried possibilities of good in him surfacing in the light of the Lord’s regard. For having like him ventured something, however small, to see and know Jesus, we will begin not only to see, but to know and feel ourselves seen: seen and sought out, known and loved by the One whose love is our beginning and who underwent death to be our end. There is nothing better than this knowledge and this love! May the grace of this encounter be yours this month, be ever deepened and be your hope and strength as you approach your end!