The last line of the first reading for today is rather stirring. He predicts that a day will come when people of other nations will come to the children of Israel because they will know that God is with them. Zechariah recognizes the fact that people are thirsting for God and urges the children of Israel to act in such a way that they will recognize God’s presence in their midst. These people will have come to Jerusalem because they believe that God lives in the Temple there. However, Zechariah looks to a day when the people will seek God in a person rather than in a place.
Of course that vision comes to fruition in Jesus. The disciples of Jesus follow him because they have come to recognize that he is in a right relationship with God. They see God working through Jesus in his healing ministry. They hear God speaking in the lessons Jesus imparts. They realize that Jesus has a close relationship with God because of the many times that he is found alone in prayer.
We have reached the point in St. Luke’s Gospel when the ministry of Jesus will draw him toward Jerusalem. Up to this point Jesus has been active in the north, in Galilee and in the non-Jewish towns that lie on the northern border of Israel. Now Jesus “resolutely” turns his face toward Jerusalem and starts to make his way there. As you have heard me say before, this is the turning point in St. Luke’s narrative. Everything that happens in the Gospel from this point on must be read with the realization the as they near Jerusalem, the climax of this story will come into focus. Despite Jesus’ many predictions of his passion and death at the hands of the scribes and the chief priests, the disciples think that Jerusalem is the place where Jesus will come into his kingdom. When they finally realize what is going to happen to Jesus, they will run away.
How can we be the type of people who will be sought out by others who are seeking God? Naturally our witness of prayer and the small acts of neighborly kindness and mercy are the calling cards that will draw people to this community. On Sunday, we heard Moses tell Joshua that he looked forward to the day when all people would speak as prophets; namely, that all people will proclaim God’s word through their lives and their examples.
The Eucharist we celebrate each day is one of the ways that people can come to recognize that God is in our midst. No matter how we look at it, Zechariah and St. Luke bring us the same message today. God is living in our midst. Let us reflect his presence in our lives.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator