Sunday, November 3, 2019

Angelus focused on Zacchaeus

At noon today in Rome (6:00am EST), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's gospel passage (cf Lk 19:1-10) places us with the followers of Jesus who, on his way to Jerusalem, makes a stop in Jericho. There were many crowds of people there to welcome him, including a man named Zacchaeus, head of the publicans, that is, of those Jews who collected taxes on behalf of the Roman Empire. He was rich not because of honest earnings, but because he asked for a bribe, and this increased the people's contempt for him. Zacchaeus tried to see who Jesus was (Lk 19:3); he didn't want to meet him, but he was curious: he wanted to see that character about whom he had heard extraordinary things. He was curious. And being short in stature, to be able to see him (Lk 19:4) he climbed a tree. When Jesus arrived nearby, he looked up and saw him (cf Lk 19:5).

And this is important: the first glance is not from Zacchaeus, but from Jesus, who, among the many faces that surrounded him - the crowd - is looking for just that. The merciful look of the Lord reaches us before we realize that we need it in order to be saved. And with this gaze of the divine Master the miracle of the conversion of the sinner begins. In fact, Jesus calls him, and calls him by name: Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house (Lk 19:5). He does not reproach him, he does not give him a sermon; he tells him that he (Jesus) must go to him (Zacchaeus): he must, because it is the will of the Father. Despite the grumbling of the people, Jesus chose to stop at the home of that public sinner.

We too would have been scandalized by this behaviour by Jesus. But the contempt and the closing of minds towards the sinner do nothing but isolate their minds and harden them in the evil that they inflict against themselves and against the community. Instead, God condemns sin, but tries to save the sinner, he goes out in search of sinners in order to bring them back along the right path.  Someone who has never felt sought after by God's mercy will find it hard to grasp the extraordinary greatness of the gestures and words with which Jesus approaches Zacchaeus.

Jesus' acceptance and attention towards Zacchaeus bring this man to a sharp change of mentality: in a moment, he realizes how petty it is to live a life that is all about money, at the cost of stealing from others and receiving their contempt. Having the Lord there, at his home, makes him see everything with different eyes, even with a bit of the tenderness with which Jesus looked at him. And his way of seeing and using money also changes: the gesture of taking is replaced by that of giving. In fact, he decides to give half of what he has to the poor and to give back four times what he has taken (cf Lk 19:8). From his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus discovers that it is possible to love for free: until that time, he had been stingy, now he became generous; he had the taste for amassing wealth, now he rejoiced in distributing. Meeting Love, discovering that he was loved despite his sins, he became capable of loving others, making money a sign of solidarity and communion.

May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the grace to always feel the merciful gaze of Jesus upon us, to go out to meet those who have done wrong with mercy, so that they too can welcome Jesus, who came to seek and save that which was lost (Lk 19:10).

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am saddened by the violence that has been suffered by the Christians in the Tewahedo Orthodox Church in Ethiopia.  I express my closeness to this Church and to her Patriarch, dear Brother Abuna Matthias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of violence in that land.

Let us pray together: Hail Mary ...

I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Municipality and the Diocese of San Severo in Puglia for the signing of the memorandum of understanding which took place on Monday 28 October, which will allow the labourers from the so-called ghettos of the Capitanata, in the Foggia area to obtain a domicile for the parishes and to properly register those land holdings with the municipal registry office. The possibility of having identity and residence documents will offer them new dignity and will allow them to escape from a condition of irregularity and exploitation. Thank you very much to the City Council and to all those who have worked on this plan.

I offer my cordial greetings to all of you, Romans and pilgrims.  In particular, I greet the Historical Corporations from Schützen and the Knights of Saint Sebastian from various countries throughout Europe; and the faithful from Lordelo de Ouro (Portugal).

I greet the groups from Reggio Calabria, Treviso, Pescara and Sant'Eufemia di Aspromonte; I greet the young people from Modena who have recently celebrated Confirmation; those from Petosino, the Dioceses of Bergamo, and the Scouts who have come on bicycle from Viterbo.  I greet the members of the Hakuna movement from Spain.

I wish all of you a good Sunday.  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye.
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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