“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.”
Pope Francis reminded the faithful in St. Peter’s Square of this during his Angelus address today at noon, while reflecting on today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke, which tells of Zacchaeus, the ‘Tax Collector.’
The wealthy Zacchaeus, who exploited the people, wished to see Jesus when He was received by the crowd, and therefore, climbed up a tree to do so. When Jesus arrived close to that tree, he told Zacchaeus to come down, for He had to stay at his house.
“We can imagine Zacchaeus’ astonishment!” Francs said. “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.”
Francis noted that this is the Father of Mercy’s plan of salvation, which not only included salvation for Zaccheus, but for all sinners.
The Holy Father recalled how all grumbled as “a dishonest man scorned by all,” “in need of conversion” was called down by Jesus.
“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.’”
Gaze Beyond Sins, Prejudices
“Jesus’ gaze goes beyond sins and prejudices – and this is important!” the Pope stressed, saying we must learn this.
“Jesus’ gaze,” he added, “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.”
Francis noted that Jesus looked at Zacchaeus’ wounded heart.
“Sometimes we seek to correct and convert a sinner by reprimanding him, reproaching him his mistakes and his unjust behavior,” Francis acknowledged, reminding faithful that 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 have surprising positive consequences, the Pope noted, namely those “which makes the heart tender and drives the person to bring out the goodness he has in himself.”
Giving individuals confidence, Pope Francis said, makes individuals grow and change.
With All of Us
“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.”
Stressing that all people contain something of good inside of them, the Pope noted that God looks for this, to help people step away from sin and return to their good selves.
Before reciting the midday prayer, the Pope prayed that 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 that all “will be able to rejoice over the surprises of the mercy of God … Our God of surprises!”
After the prayer, the Pope recalled his upcoming visit to Sweden and those affected by the strong earthquake that struck near Norcia in Central Italy this morning.
As usual, Pope Francis concluded, wishing all present a good Sunday, good lunch, but also a Happy All Saints’ Day, and telling them not to forget to pray for him.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Angelus Address: https://zenit.org/articles/