Monday, September 21, 2020

Matthew and the Gaze of Jesus

Pope Francis often links the beginning of his own vocation to the priesthood to his experience of the merciful gaze of Jesus, who looked upon him and called him in late adolescence through the eyes of a kind parish priest who was his confessor and guide.

Some years ago, the Pope took the occasion of today's feast of Saint Matthew the-tax-collector-turned-apostle to preach about this loving, penetrating way that the Lord regards each one of us.

"Jesus’ gaze always lifts us up. It is a look that always lifts us up, and never leaves us in our place, never lets us down, never humiliates. It invites you to get up; [it is] a look that brings you to grow, to move forward, that encourages you, because it loves you. The gaze makes you feel that He loves you.

"And sinners, tax collectors and sinners, they felt that Jesus had looked on them, and that gaze of Jesus upon them (I believe) was like a breath on embers, and they felt that there was fire in the belly, again, and that Jesus had ​​lifted them up, gave them back their dignity. The gaze of Jesus always makes us worthy, gives us dignity. It is a generous look.

"'But behold, what a teacher: dining with the dregs of the city!'

"But beneath that dirt there were the embers of desire for God, the embers of God's image that wanted someone who could help them be kindled anew. This is what the gaze of Jesus does.

"All of us find ourselves before that gaze, that marvelous gaze, and we go forward in life, in the certainty that He looks upon us. He too, however, awaits us, in order to look on us definitively, and that final gaze of Jesus upon our lives will be forever, it will be eternal.

"I ask all the saints upon whom Jesus has looked, to prepare us to let ourselves be looked upon in life, and that they prepare us also for that final – and first! – gaze of Jesus!"

~Pope Francis