Pope calls for mercy, not lecturing, to those who make mistakes

Jesus told Zacchaeus the sinner that “he must go to him: ‘he must’ because that’s the Father’s will”. The pontiff expressed his closeness to Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, victims of violence, and gratitude to the civil and religious authorities of San Severo, Apulia, for their action in favour of farmhands.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At today’s Angelus, Pope Francis called for mercy when meeting those who make mistakes so that they too can welcome Jesus, who “has come to seek and to save what was lost.” The pontiff also expressed closeness to Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, victims of violence.

Before the Angelus, Francis commented on today's Gospel (Lk 19: 1-10) centred on the conversion of Zacchaeus, a publican or tax collector, whom Jesus “calls by name: ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house’ (v. 5). He does not reproach him, nor lecture him. [Instead,] he tells him that he must go to him: ‘he must’ because that’s the Father’s will.”

“Despite the grumbling of the people, Jesus chose to stay at the home of that public sinner. This is important: the first gaze is not by Zacchaeus, but by Jesus, who, among the many faces that closely surround him, sought out exactly that one. The Lord’s merciful gaze reaches us before we realise that we need it to be saved. With the divine Master’s gaze, the miracle of the conversion of the sinner of Jericho begins.”

“We too would have been scandalised by Jesus’s behaviour. But contempt and closure towards the sinner do nothing but isolate and harden him in the evil that he does against himself and the community. Instead God condemns the sin but tries to save the sinner; he goes out to look for him in order to bring it back on the right path. Whoever has never felt wanted by God's mercy, finds it hard to grasp the extraordinary greatness of the gestures and words with which Jesus approaches Zacchaeus.”

“Jesus' acceptance of and attention towards him lead that man to a sharp change in mindset: quickly he realises how petty a life caught up in money is, at the cost of stealing from others and experiencing their contempt. Having the Lord there, in his home, makes him see everything through different eyes, with a bit of the tenderness as well with which Jesus looked at him. He changes his way of seeing and using money: the act of giving replaces that of pinching.”

“By encountering Love, discovering that he is loved despite his sins, he becomes capable of loving others, turning money into a sign of solidarity and communion.”

After the Marian prayer the Pope expressed solidarity towards Ethiopian Orthodox. “I express my closeness to this beloved Church and her Patriarch, dear brother Abuna Matthias.”

Francis also expressed “heartfelt thanks to the Municipality and the Diocese of San Severo in Apulia (Italy) for signing a memorandum of understanding on Monday 28 October, which will allow the farmhands of the so-called 'ghettos of the Capitanata’, Foggia area, to get residence in the parishes and the municipal registry office. The possibility of having identity and residence papers will offer them new dignity and allow them to escape from an irregular situation and from exploitation. Many thanks to the City Council and to all those who have worked on this plan.”