“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasme d hears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase, and unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee who betrayest Me.
I pleaded, outlaw-wise, by many a hearted casement,
curtained red, trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread, lest, having Him,
I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter
The pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: be sudden—to Eve: be soon;
With thy young skiey blossom heap me over
From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or, whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings
round the spurn of their feet:—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase, and unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—
‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me”.
~By Francis Thompson
Francis Thompson’s classic poem The Hound of Heaven, typically describes how God constantly pursues us with
His love. Though it appears we seek God, in actuality it is God who seeks us. He is there, surrounding us with His
love and presence, but we struggle and make efforts, knowingly and unknowingly, to run away from His Loving
Gaze! He uses everything possible, all the events in our lives – the good, the bad, the ugly – to awaken our minds
and hearts to His abiding Presence. He hopes that one day, like Zacchaeus in this weekend’s Gospel, we will become aware of our need for Him. Just there and then, the Lord was there to dine with him, that is, to commune
with him. The flame of divine love already in him, but which was dimmed by a life of extortion and greed, became
strong again that Zacchaeus surrendered to the power of God’s love and dropped that which prevented the flame
from growing into a burning fire of goodness, love and compassion. “Lord, I will give half of all I exhorted to the
poor” (Luke 19:8) he uttered. After these years, the pursuing love of God has caught him. At that surrender to
Divine Love, the Lord declared that salvation had come into the heart of Zacchaeus, and into his household. At
last, greed, extortion, reckless ambition, have lost their grip on him. He became a new man. From thence, love
ruled his life!
Only the Lord’s gaze of love can change us; nothing more! Christian life is not about rules and regulations; it is a
relationship. It is learning to get into eye contact and heart-to-heart contact with the love-gaze of Jesus Christ. It is
being awake to the outstretched arms of the Father in His Son; it is being awakened to the hound of heaven, to the
sound of God’s feet and voice following after us; it is to surrender to love and choose the way of love as the only
valid way to live.