10/30/2016, 13.01
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Pope express closeness to central Italy earthquake victims

At the Sunday Angelus Pope Francis prays for the injured and families of the earthquake victims, a few hours from another quake that took place this morning. The people see in Zacchaeus "a villain, who has become rich on the backs of others. But Jesus, driven by mercy, was looking precisely for him". "This in order to give confidence to people who grow and change. This is how God acts towards all of us: He is not blocked by our sin, but surpasses it with love and helps us feel nostalgia for good. " Four new blessed in Spain, martyrs of the Civil War. Prayers for the trip to Sweden and the meeting with the Lutherans. The Pope went to Saint Mary Major yesterday in order to entrust this trip to Our Lady.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has expressed his "closeness to earthquake victims in central Italy " at the conclusion of the Angelus today with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. He recalled that "even this morning there was a strong shock." In fact a few hours earlier, at 7.40, there was still a strong quake with a magnitude of 6.5, whose epicenter was almost the same as the August 24 earthquake. The latter left 298 dead and nearly 400 injured. This morning’s quake did not cause deaths, but only a few dozen wounded, along with damage to homes, churches and other architectural heritage.

"Please - said the Pope – pray for the injured and for the families that have suffered major damage, as well as for the personnel involved in rescue and assistance. May the Risen Lord give them strength and Our Lady guard them. " The pilgrims expressed their participation with a long applause.

Francis had previously commented on the Gospel of today's Mass (31st year, C, Luke 19,1-10), which recounts the meeting between Jesus and Zacchaeus. "Zacchaeus - explained the Pope – a chief 'tax collector', …was a wealthy employee of the hated Roman occupiers, an exploiter of his people. He wanted to see Jesus, but his condition as a public sinner does not allow him to approach the Master; what's more, he was short; that is why he climbed into a tree, a sycamore tree, along the road where Jesus was to pass.

When he gets close to that tree, Jesus looks up and tells him, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house" (v. 5). We can imagine the astonishment of Zacchaeus! But why does Jesus say, "I must stay at your house"? What is his goal? We know that his highest goal is to implement the plan of the Father for humanity, which is fulfilled in Jerusalem with his death sentence, the crucifixion and, on the third day, the Resurrection. It is the plan of salvation of the Father's mercy. And in this design there is also the salvation of Zacchaeus, a dishonest man who is despised by all, and therefore in need of conversion. In fact, the Bible says that when Jesus called him, "they all murmured," He entered the house of a sinner! ' "(V. 7). The people see him as a villain, who has become rich on the backs of others. But Jesus, driven by mercy, was looking precisely for him".

Moving from his prepared text, Francis added: "And if Jesus had said, 'Come down you, traitor of the people, and come and talk to me! Surely the people would have applauded. But Jesus goes to his house, the house of an exploiter. "

 

"The gaze of Jesus - he continued - goes beyond the sins and prejudices. He sees the person with the eyes of God, who does not stop at the bad past, but sees the future good.  He is not resigned to closures, but offers a new life. He does not stop at appearances, but looks at the heart ... He sees the heart wounded by sin, greed, evil ... ".

"Sometimes - he concluded - we try to correct and convert a sinner scolding him, rebuking him for his mistakes and his unjust behavior. The attitude of Jesus and Zacchaeus shows us another way: that of showing to those who make mistakes their worth, the worth that God continues to give them regardless. This may cause a positive surprise, which softens the heart and drives a person to bring out the good that they have within it. It is giving people the confidence to grow and change. This is how God acts towards all of us: He is not blocked by our sin, but supersedes it with love and helps us feel nostalgic for good. "

"We have all felt this nostalgia for good after a mistake. Everybody has some good. God can see this".

After the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled that yesterday in Madrid Benedictine priests José Gómez Antón, Antolín Pablos Villanueva, Juan Rafael Mariano Alcocer Martinez and Luis Gonzáles Vidaurrázaga were proclaimed blessed.  They were martyrs, killed in Spain in the last century, during the persecutions against the Church. "We praise the Lord - he said - and we entrust our brothers and sisters to their intercession who, unfortunately still today, in various parts of the world who are persecuted for their faith in Christ."

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