.- In his homily on the Feast of St. Matthew, Pope Francis reflected on the disciple’s radical conversion experience when Christ called him from a life of sin with a simple look.
When Jesus looked at Matthew, “that gaze overtook him completely, it changed his life,” said the Pope to the congregation at Casa Santa Marta on Sept. 21.
“The gaze of Jesus always makes us worthy, gives us dignity. It is a generous look.”
He explained that the an encounter with Jesus “gives the courage to follow Him.”
“Jesus’ gaze always lifts us up,” continued Pope Francis. “It is a look that always lifts us up, and never leaves you in your place, never lets us down, never humiliates. It invites you to get up – a look that brings you to grow, to move forward, that encourages you.”
The gaze of Jesus is incredibly powerful, said the Pope, but it is not “magical.”
“Jesus was not a specialist in hypnosis,” he quipped.
Rather, Christ’s gaze is one that “makes you feel that he loves you.”
It is the divine love that the “tax collectors and sinners” like Matthew experienced.
“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 made them lifted up, gave them back their dignity,” he said.
Although some ridiculed Jesus for dining with people who were rejected by society, he knew their hearts, the Holy Father added.
“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.”
He encouraged Christians to both acknowledge and seek the gaze of Jesus in their lives.
“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.”