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.
Before the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today’s Gospel presents an event that happened at Jericho, when Jesus reached the city and was received by the crowd (cf. Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus, the head of the “publicans,” that is, of the tax collectors, lived in the city. Zacchaeus was a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers, an exploiter of his people. He also, out of curiosity, wished to see Jesus, but his condition of public sinner did not allow him to approach the Master; moreover, he was small in stature, so he climbed up a sycamore tree, along the street where Jesus was to pass.
When Jesus arrived close to that tree, He looked up and said: “Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.” (v. 5). We can imagine Zacchaeus’ astonishment! But why did Jesus say I “must stay at your house”? What was His duty? We know that His supreme duty was to carry out the Father’s plan for humanity, which was fulfilled at Jerusalem with His condemnation to Death, Crucifixion and, on the third day, Resurrection. It is the plan of salvation of the Father’s mercy. And, in this plan, there is also the salvation of Zacchaeus, a dishonest man scorned by all and, therefore, in need of conversion. In fact, the Gospel says that, when Jesus called him, “they began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.’ (v. 7). The people see in him a villain, who has enriched himself on the skin of his neighbor. And if Jesus had said: ‘Come down, exploiter, betrayer of the people! Come to speak with me to settle the accounts!’ No doubt the people would have applauded. Instead, they began to murmur: “Jesus goes to his house, that of a sinner, of an exploiter.
Led by mercy, Jesus, in fact, sought him. And when He entered Zacchaeus’ house, He said: “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” (vv. 9-10). Jesus’ gaze goes beyond sins and prejudices – and this is important! We must learn this. Jesus’ gaze goes beyond sins and prejudices; He sees a person with the eyes of God, who does not stop at past evil, but perceives the future good; Jesus is not resigned to closures but always opens, always opens new areas of life; He does not halt at appearances but looks at the heart. And here, He looked at this man’s wounded heart: wounded by the sin of greed, by the many bad things Zacchaeus had done. He looks at that wounded heart and goes there.
Sometimes we seek to correct and convert a sinner by reprimanding him, reproaching him his mistakes and his unjust behavior. Jesus’ attitude with Zacchaeus shows us another way: that of showing one in error his value, that value that God continues to see despite everything, despite all his mistakes. This can cause a positive surprise, which makes the heart tender and drives the person to bring out the goodness he has in himself. It is about giving individuals confidence, which makes them grow and change. God behaves this way with all of us: He is not blocked by our sin, but overcomes it with love and makes us feel nostalgia for the good. We have all felt this nostalgia for the good after a mistake. And God Our Father, thus acts, and then Jesus acts. There is no person who does not have something good. And God looks at this to bring him out of evil.
May the Virgin Mary help us to see the good there is in the persons we meet every day, so that all are encouraged to have emerge the image of God imprinted in their heart. And so we are able to rejoice over the surprises of the mercy of God! Our God, who is the God of surprises![Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters, proclaimed Blessed yesterday at Madrid were Jose Anton Gomez, Antolin Pablos Villanueva, Juan Rafael Mariano Alcocer Martinez and Luis Vidaurrazaga Gonzalez, martyrs, killed in Spain in the last century, during the persecution against the Church. They were Benedictine priests. We praise the Lord and entrust to their intercession the brothers and sisters that unfortunately, yet today, are persecuted for their faith in Christ in several parts of the world.
I express my closeness to the populations of Central Italy affected by the earthquake. There was a strong tremor also this morning. I pray for the wounded and for the families that have suffered great damages, as well as for the personnel involved in rescue and assistance. May the Risen Lord give them strength and may Our Lady protect them.
I greet affectionately all the pilgrims of Italy and of various countries, in particular those from Ljubliana (Slovenia) and from Sligo (Ireland). I greet the participants in the world pilgrimage of hairdressers and beauticians, the National Federation of Historical Processions and Games, the youth groups of Petosino, Pogliano Milanese, Carugate and Padua. I also greet the pilgrims of UNITALSI of Sardinia.
In the next two days, I will undertake an Apostolic Journey to Sweden, on the occasion of the commemoration of the Reformation, which will see Catholics and Lutherans gathered together in remembrance and prayer. I ask you all to pray so that this journey is a new stage on the path of fraternity to full communion.
I wish you a happy Sunday – there is a beautiful sun … — and happy Feast of All Saints. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and see you soon![Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]