Have you ever witnessed the thrill of a three-year-old getting to meet Mickey Mouse in person for the first time? We got that opportunity this summer. As we moved closer and closer to the front of the line to get a picture with the famous mouse, the excitement grew, especially for our three year old, Simon. As soon as we were next in line, he couldn’t stand it any longer and yelled out, “Hey!! MICKEY! It’s ME!!” You can’t help but admire the unquestioning concept that Mickey should know him from all the time they spent together via cartoons. But how many of us feel that way about God? Does God know us? How would we respond to meeting Him face to face?
The first reading this Sunday puts some perspective on the misconceptions many people hold about Who God is and His relationship to what He has made. The entire universe doesn’t even compare to a drop of dew next to His Immensity. Yet, He loves even the smallest drop of dew completely and gives that one drop as much of His full attention as any other part of the universe. This doesn’t make sense to a lot of us. Why not? I think it’s because our culture has dumbed down our concept of God. What the Catholic Church means by the word “God” is so deep and wide that it can’t be summed up in sound bites of 140 characters or less. Either because we haven’t given it much thought, or because of the influence of the culture, many people think of God as a bigger version of themselves, like a human mind plus some “holier stuff.” In fact many feel they could give God a bit of advice on how He’s running His creation wrong. If that’s all God is, He couldn’t pay attention to more than one thing at a time, focusing His attention here for a moment, then there for a moment. Yet according to the true accurate Christian meaning, God is Existence Itself in His very essence, infinitely beyond human understanding. Nothing would exist without His willing it, holding everything in creation in existence from one moment to the next. Even though we can only pay attention to one thing at a time, God can do infinitely more. He loves you as though you were the only thing that has ever existed. If He stopped thinking about you passionately for one second, you would cease to exist. We are surprised to find we are known, loved, and pursued by God.
We celebrate All Saints’ Day this week and we’re reminded of these real life heroes. We see the stories of their intimacy with God in an especially extraordinary way in the mystics. It’s easy to admire that from a distance, but that admiration does little until we apply it to our own life. Are the saints the only ones God chooses to be intimate with? Is becoming a saint only for a chosen few? This Sunday’s gospel is one more bit of evidence in which God’s love and man’s perfecting in glory is for everyone – even outcasts, even sinners, and everyone who falls “short.” Imagine Zacchaeus’ surprise when, climbing the tree to look for this man called Jesus, he discovered Jesus had come to look for him! A man, both short in stature and in a profession despised by others, was known by God. Not only known, but sought after and loved. The crux of the matter for both Zacchaeus and for us is how we respond to that. Once Zacchaeus found he was known, loved, and pursued by Jesus, he altered his life to put that relationship first. Inspired by Zacchaeus’ own courage and the saints’ own personal reality of God’s intimacy, we can confidently call out to Him in the same way our three-year-old Simon called out to Mickey Mouse. “Hey!! GOD!! It’s ME!!” And be surprised when He is already waiting for us.