Pope at Angelus: ‘Jesus looks at us to restore our dignity’

Pope Francis reflects on the story of Jesus encountering Zacchaeus the tax collector, and says the Lord always gazes upon broken humanity with a desire to restore our dignity.

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis prayed the Angelus on Sunday with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and reflected on the day’s Gospel (Lk 19:1-10), which recounts the story of Jesus inviting Himself to stay with Zacchaeus.

The Pope focused his comments on the “gaze” shared by Zacchaeus and Jesus, as the chief tax collector looked down on Jesus from a tree.

Zacchaeus, who was the chief tax collector in the city of Jericho, was seeking to see “who Jesus was”, but was short in stature and so had to climb a tree to see over the crowd.

Always a chance to start over

Pope Francis noted that Zacchaeus, as a tax collector for the Roman occupiers of Israel, surely took advantage of his position to extort money from others. Therefore, he was hated by everyone and branded a sinner.

Despite his short stature and public persona, Zacchaeus greatly desired to see Jesus, even though he does not yet know Him.

“Zacchaeus teaches us that, in life, all is never lost. We can always find space for the desire to begin again, to start over, to convert.”

God humbles Himself to lift us up

The Pope then turned his thoughts to the gaze of Jesus, who was sent by the Father to seek those who are lost.

The Gospel of Luke says Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”

Pope Francis said these words present a beautiful image of Jesus “looking up” at Zacchaeus from below.

“This is the history of salvation: God has never looked down on us to humiliate and judge us. On the contrary, He lowered Himself to the point of washing our feet, looking at us from below and restoring our dignity to us.”

This episode, added the Pope, sums up all of salvation history. “Humanity, with its miseries, seeks redemption, but firstly, God, with mercy, seeks His creature to save it,” he said.

Compassionate gaze of the Church

Turning his attention what this Gospel means for us, Pope Francis pointed out that God never dwells on our past with all its errors, but rather looks “with infinite confidence at what we can become.”

Even when we are unable to confront the challenges of life, he added, Jesus always “looks on us with love” and invites Himself into our home, if we are willing to welcome Him.

We too, concluded the Pope, are called to consider both how we look upon ourselves and how we gaze upon others who struggle to arise from “the dust of their mistakes”.

“We Christians must have the gaze of Christ, who embraces from below, who seeks those who are lost, with compassion. This is, and must always be, the gaze of the Church.”

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30 October 2022, 12:08

The Angelus is a special prayer recited by Catholics three times a day, at 6am, noon, and 6pm and is accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell. The name comes from the Latin word for Angel and the prayer itself reminds us of how Jesus Christ assumed our human nature through the Mystery of the Incarnation.
The Pope recites the Angelus prayer in St Peter’s Square every Sunday at midday.
He also gives a brief reflection on the Gospel of the day and often comments on some issue of international concern. The Pope’s words are broadcast all over the world on radio and television and widely shared on social media.
From Easter to Pentecost the Regina Coeli is prayed instead of the Angelus. This prayer commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and, like the Angelus, concludes with the recitation of the Gloria three times.

Latest Angelus / Regina Coeli

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