St. Peter's Square
Sunday, November 3, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today's Gospel (cf. Lk 19: 1-10) places us in the wake of Jesus who, on his way to Jerusalem, makes a stop in Jericho. There was so much crowd 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 contempt for him. Zacchaeus "tried to see who Jesus was" (v. 3); he didn't want to meet him, but he was curious: he wanted to see that character he had heard about extraordinary things. He was curious. And being low in stature, "to be able to see it" (v. 4) climbs a tree. When Jesus arrives nearby, he looks up and sees him (see verse 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 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" (v. 5). He does not reproach him, he does not give him a "sermon"; he tells him that he must go to him: "he must", because it is the will of the Father. Despite the murmurs of the people, Jesus chooses to stop at the home of that public sinner.
We too would have been scandalized by this behavior of Jesus. But the contempt and the closing towards the sinner do nothing but isolate it and harden it in the evil that it does against itself and against the community. Instead God condemns sin, but tries to save the sinner, he goes to look for it to bring it back on the right path. Whoever has never felt sought by God's mercy, finds it hard to grasp the extraordinary greatness of the gestures and words with which Jesus approaches Zacchaeus.
Jesus' acceptance and attention towards him bring this man to a sharp change of mentality: in a moment he realizes how petty a life is all about money, at the cost of stealing from others and receiving the 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 giving 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 to those he has stolen (see verse 8). Zacchaeus discovers from Jesus that it is possible to love for free: so far he was stingy, now he becomes generous; he had the taste for massing, now he rejoices in distributing. Meeting the Love, discovering that he is loved despite his sins, he becomes 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 what was lost "(V. 10).
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am saddened by the violence suffered by the Christians of the Tewahedo Orthodox Church of Ethiopia. I express my closeness to this Church and 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 laborers of the so-called "ghettos of the Capitanata", in the Foggia area, to obtain a domiciliation at the parishes and registration with the municipal registry office. The possibility of having identity and residence documents will offer them new dignity and will allow them to exit 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 address my cordial greeting to all of you, Romans and pilgrims. In particular, I greet the historical corporations of the Schützen and the Knights of St. Sebastian from various European countries; and the faithful from Lordelo de Ouro (Portugal).
I greet the groups of Reggio Calabria, Treviso, Pescara and Sant’Eufemia di Aspromonte; I greet the boys of Modena who received the Confirmation, those of Petosino, diocese of Bergamo, and the Scouts who came by bicycle from Viterbo. I greet the members of the Hakuna movement from Spain.
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please don't forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye.
Full Text Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation