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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Remembrance of Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to see the Lord and received as a gift the conversion of his heart.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 19, 1-10

He entered Jericho and was going through the town

and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man.

He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd;

so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.

When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today.'

And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully.

They all complained when they saw what was happening. 'He has gone to stay at a sinner's house,' they said.

But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, 'Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.'

And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham;

for the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

While walking along the streets of Jericho, Jesus raises his gaze toward Zacchaeus, who had climbed a tree because he was small of stature. Jesus calls him by name. It is important to highlight this attention of Jesus. He knows us by name. And, in an anonymous and depersonalized society like ours, this attitude of Jesus offers us a great lesson. Jesus knows him by name and calls him: “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” The Gospel is always personal; it always proclaims our name. We often see it as generic, as though it were a faraway spectacle that we do not have to listen to it. We imagine Zacchaeus’ amazement in hearing his name called. He was a tax-collector, therefore, a sinner, but Jesus calls only him. It is true that he wanted to see Jesus. This is an example for all of us, who so often remain low downhearted, concentrated on ourselves and on our usual habits. To see Jesus we need to get out of ourselves; we need to get away from our complacency and allow ourselves to be questioned by the Gospel. Jesus, who reads our hearts, was aware of that tax-collector’s desire, and as soon as he saw him, he called that he wanted to stay at his house. The book of Revelation comes to mind: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” That day in Jericho this word became real. Zacchaeus only wanted to see him. Jesus wanted to meet him and to give him salvation. Zacchaeus hosts Jesus because only by opening our heart can we free it from fear and pride, and rediscover hope. At Jesus’ invitation Zacchaeus comes down in a hurry and, with joy, welcomes Jesus in his home. This time the rich man, when confronted by the invitation, does not go away sad; even Jesus is full of joy. The encounter changes Zacchaeus’ heart: he is now a happy man with a new heart. At the end of the encounter, in fact, he decides to return what he had stolen and to give half of his goods to the poor. And so begins his conversion: he is no longer the same man as before. The encounter with the Lord changes one’s life. Zacchaeus establishes a new measure, his measure, and he puts it into effect. He does not say “I will give everything,” but “I will give half.” Zacchaeus invites us to not postpone always, nor to allow ourselves to be led by our resignation, or ever believe that life is marked in an irreparable way, but to trust in the surprising mercy of a teacher who is never ashamed to enter our house. By welcoming Jesus in our hearts we find the personal path to love.

Memory of the Church