Meeting Christ Changes Everything, Says Pope

Reflects on Conversion of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2007 ( Meeting Christ is a life-changing moment, said Benedict XVI in a Gospel reflection on the conversion of Zacchaeus the tax collector after his encounter with Christ.

The Pope said this today before reciting the Angelus with a crowd of some 50,000 who had gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father recalled that Zacchaeus was considered a public sinner and was despised by all, but he had a great desire to see Jesus at Jericho.

“The Lord turned to him, calling him by name: ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house,'” recounted the Pontiff. “What a message in this simple phrase!”

“Jesus calls by name a man who is despised by all,” said Benedict XVI.

In telling Zacchaeus that he wishes to stay at his house “today,” the Lord is saying that Zacchaeus’ “moment of salvation is now,” added the Pope. He explained that “the Father, who is rich in mercy, wants Jesus to go and ‘seek out and save what was lost.'”

“The grace of that unforeseeable moment was such that it completely changed Zacchaeus’ life,” the Holy Father pointed out.

He said that the passage of the Gospel is one that shows “that love, flowing from the heart of God and working through the heart of man, is the force that renews the world.”

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