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Angelus Address: On Jesus’ Meeting with the Sinful Tax Collector Zacchaeus

‘God Condemns the Sin, but He seeks to Save the Sinner, He Goes to Look for Him to Bring Him Back to the Right Way’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Before the Angelus

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today’s Gospel (Cf. Luke 19, 1-10) has us follow Jesus who, in His journey to Jerusalem, stops at Jericho. Among the great crowd that received Him, there was a man called Zacchaeus, chief publican, namely of those Jews that collected the taxes for the account of the Roman Empire. He was rich, but not thanks to an honest earning, but because he asked for a “bribe,” and this increased the contempt for him. Zacchaeus “sought to see who Jesus was” (v. 3); he didn’t want to meet Him, but he was curious; he wanted to see that personality of whom he had heard extraordinary things said. He was curious. And being small of stature “to see Him” (v. 4) he climbed up a tree. When Jesus came there, He looked up and saw him (Cf. v. 5).

And this is important: the first look wasn’t Zacchaeus’ but Jesus’, who among the many faces that surrounded Him — the crowd–, in fact, seeks him. The Lord’s merciful look reaches us first before we realize our need of Him to be saved. And, with this look of the divine Master, the miracle begins of the sinner’s conversion. In fact, Jesus calls him, and He calls him by name: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). He doesn’t reproach him; He doesn’t “preach” to him; He says to him that He must go to his house: He “must,” because it’s the will of the Father. Despite the people’s murmuring, Jesus chooses to stay in the house of that sinful publican.

We too would have been scandalized by Jesus’ behavior, but contempt and closing to a sinner only isolate him and harden him in the evil he does to himself and to the community. Instead, God condemns the sin, but He seeks to save the sinner, He goes to look for him to bring him back to the right way. He who has never felt sought by God’s mercy has trouble accepting the extraordinary grandeur of the gestures and words with which Jesus approaches Zacchaeus.

Jesus’ welcome and attention to him lead that man to a clear change of mentality: in a split second, he realizes how wretched is a life wholly prey to money, at the cost of robbing others and of receiving their contempt. To have the Lord there, in his house, makes him see everything with different eyes, even with some of the tenderness with which Jesus looked at him. And his way of seeing and of using money also changes: he replaces his gesture of pinching by that of giving. In fact, he decides to give half of what he possesses to the poor and to restore fourfold to those he has defrauded (Cf. v. 8). Zacchaeus discovers from Jesus that it is possible to love gratuitously: up to now he was avaricious, now he becomes generous: he liked to amass; now he rejoices in distributing. Finding 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 feel always upon us the merciful gaze of Jesus, to go to meet with mercy those that have made a mistake, so that they too can welcome Jesus, who “came to seek and to save the lost” (v. 10).

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]


After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am grieved by the violence of which the Christians of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church are victims. I express my closeness to this Church and to its Patriarch, dear brother Abuna Matthias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of the violence in that land.

Let us pray together: “Hail Mary . . . “

 I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the Municipality and the Diocese of San Severo in Puglia, for the signing of the protocol of intent, which occurred last Monday, October 28, and which will enable workers of the so-called “ghettos of Capitanata,” in the Foggia area, to obtain a domicile near the parishes and registration with the Municipal Registry Office. The possibility of having identity and residence documents will give them a new dignity and enable them to come out of a condition of irregularity and exploitation. Thank you so much to the Municipality and to all those that worked on this plan.

My warm greeting goes to you all, Romans and pilgrims. In particular the historical Corporations of the Schutzen and of the Knights of Saint Sebastian, from several countries of Europe, and the faithful of Lordelo de Ouro, Portugal.

I greet the groups of Reggio Calabria, Treviso, Pescara, and Sant’Eufemia of Aspromonte; I greet the youngsters of Modena who received Confirmation, those of Petosino, diocese of Bergamo, and the Scouts that have come on bicycles from Viterbo. I greet the members of the Hakuna Movement of Spain.

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Virginia Forrester

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