Monday, November 05, 2007

Angelus: Love from the heart of God renews the world

~translated by Teresa Benedetta of Papa Ratzinger Forum

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the liturgy presents for our meditation the noted Gospel episode of the encounter of Jesus with Zacchaeus in the city of Jericho.

Who was Zacchaeus? A rich man who was a 'publican' by occupation, that is, a collector of taxes on behalf of the Roman authority, and because of this, he was considered a public sinner.

Having learned that Jesus was to pass by Jericho, that man was seized by a great desire to see him, but being a short man, he had to climb a tree to do so.

Jesus stopped right under that tree and addressed him by name: "Zacchaeus, come down, because today, I must stay at your house" (Lk 19,5).

What a message in this simple sentence! 'Zacchaeus!" Jesus calls a man despised by all, by his name. "Today" - yes, now was, for Zacchaeus, the moment of salvation. "I must stay at your house." Why 'must'? Because the Father, rich with mercy, wants Jesus to 'find and save him who is lost' (Lk 19,10).

The grace of that unforeseen encounter was such as to completely change Zacchaeus's life: ""Behold," he told Jesus, "half of my possessions, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I shall repay it four times over."

Once again, the Gospel tells us that love, coming from the heart of God and working through the heart of man, is the power that renews the world.

This truth shines out singularly in the testimony of the saint whose memory we mark today: Carlo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. His figure stood out in the 16th century as the model of a pastor exemplary for his charity, doctrine, apostolic zeal, an above all, prayer. "Souls," he said, "are conquered by being on one's knees."

Consecrated bishop at only 25 years of age, he put into practice the dictate of the Council of Trent that required bishops to live in their respective dioceses, and dedicated himself completely to the Ambrosian church.

He visited the length and breadth of the diocese three times. He called six provincial synods and 11 diocesan. He founded seminaries to train a new generation of priests. He constructed hospitals and offered his family wealth in the service of the poor. He defended the rights of the Church against the powers that be. He renewed religious life and instituted a new congregation of secular priests, the Oblates.

In 1576, when the plague raged through Milan, he visited, comforted and spent all he had for the sick. His motto consisted of one word, 'Humilitas'. Humility impelled him, like Jesus, to renounce himself in order to be the servant of all.

Remembering my venerated predecessor John Paul II, who carried St. Charles's name with honor [Karol=Charles], let us entrust to the intercession of St. Charles all the bishops of the world, for whom let us invoke always the heavenly protection of the Most Blessed Mary, Mother of the Church.

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