Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - "There is no profession or social status, there is no sin or crime of any kind that could erase even one of his children from God's heart and memory. 'God remembers ', he does not forget those He created". This is how Pope Francis interpreted Sunday's Gospel, which tells of the conversion of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10 ).
In front of at least 40 thousand
faithful gathered in St Peter's Square - with banners and stadium horns -
before the Angelus, the Pope explained the stoy: " This man [ Zacchaeus ]
is a lost sheep, he espised and ' excommunicated' , because he a tax collector,
indeed, the chief tax collector of the city, a friend of the hated Roman
occupiers, a thief and exploiter. A right character! Prevented from approaching
Jesus, probably because of his bad reputation, and being small in stature,
a tree in order to see the Master passing. This outward gesture, although
somewhat ridiculous, expresses the interior act of a man who tries to overcome the
crowd to contact Jesus. Not even Zacchaeus himself understands the profound
meaning of his gesture, he does not even dare to hope that he can overcome the
distance that separates him from the Lord; he is resigned to seeing him only in
passing. But Jesus, when he nears the tree, calls him by name : " Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must
stay at your house "( LC19 , 5) . A man of small
stature, rejected by all, and distant from Jesus, he is almost lost in
anonymity, but Jesus called him, and that name has a meaning full of allusions:
' Zacchaeus ' in fact means ' God remembers ' .
And Jesus went into the house of
Zacchaeus, drawing criticism of all the people of Jericho, because people
gossiped a lot at that time: - But how? With all the good people who we
are in town, he is going to stay with this tax collector? Yes, because he was
lost, and Jesus says, "Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham" ( Lk 19:9) . From that day joy, peace, salvation entered the house of Zacchaeus. When Jesus came".
And before concluding he added: " ' God remembers ', He does not forget any of those He created and He is the Father, always loving and watchful waiting to see revived in his children's heart the desire to return home. And when He recognizes that desire, even if it is only a whisper and almost unconscious, He draws immediately near, and with his forgiveness illuminates the path of conversion and return".
And speaking extemporaneously he added: " We look at Zacchaeus in the tree today: it's ridiculous, but it is an act of salvation. And I say to you : if you have something weighing your conscience down, if you have done many things, stop for a bit ' and think that there is Someone waiting for you ... cling onto the desire to be forgiven ... I tell you that Jesus never gets tired of forgiving . "
" Brothers and sisters - he continued - let us also call us Jesus by name! Deep in your heart , listen to his voice that tells us:" Today I must stay at your house" that is your life . And welcome Him with joy : He may change us, he can transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, He can liberate us from selfishness and make our lives a gift of love. Jesus can do it; let us look to Jesus. "
After the Marian prayer, Francis addressed a greeting to "all the Romans and pilgrims present, especially families, parishes and groups from many countries of the world." The pope also greeted a group of pilgrims from Lebanon .