CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope Francis says Jesus’ merciful gaze rests upon us even before we ourselves realize our need for salvation.

November 3, 2019

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel account of Jesus’ meeting with Zacchaeus in Jericho.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector, and for this reason was considered a public sinner. When he heard that Jesus was coming through Jericho, he “wanted to see who Jesus was” – he didn’t expect to meet Him, Pope Francis said, “but was curious: he wanted to see this person about Whom he’d heard such wonderful things”. Because he was a short man, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to get a look at the Lord.

The merciful gaze of Jesus

When Jesus approached, He looked up and saw Zacchaeus. “This is important” the Pope said. “The first gaze is not that of Zacchaeus, but of Jesus”. Pope Francis explained that “the merciful gaze of the Lord reaches us before we ourselves realize our need of being saved”. And, he said, it is with this Divine gaze that Zacchaeus’ miraculous conversion begins. Jesus did not “rebuke him or give him a sermon”, the Pope said, but told Zacchaeus that he must stay in his house. “He ‘must’”, the Pope said, “because it is the will of the Father”.

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