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November 1989

Make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today. (Lk. 19:5)

These words are taken from the story of Zaccheus. Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho and there was a big crowd around him. Amongst the crowd there was a man called Zaccheus. He was a tax collector and precisely because of his profession he was considered a public sinner. He wanted to see Jesus but couldn't because he was not very tall, so he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree. His action did not go unnoticed by Jesus. Much to the surprise of the crowd, who were somewhat scandalised, Jesus calls him by name and invites himself to Zaccheus' home.

Make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.

The first thing that we see in this scene is Jesus' love for those who seem furthest from God.

It is a love which takes the initiative and goes beyond human plans and prejudices, beyond the ideas of so-called right-minded people, beyond social conventions, beyond everything.

It is a love which does not judge; it does not weigh up blame or personal responsibility; it is a love which wants to save and nothing else. Jesus' love does not stop to look at the difficulties, but rather, one could almost say his love is drawn to human weakness and to our inability to go beyond it.

Make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.

The second important aspect of the story of Zaccheus is the radical transformation which takes place in him. Humanly speaking his situation is very difficult. However, when Jesus arrives at his home something completely unexpected occurs.

Zaccheus is won over by Jesus' love. He is moved to open his heart to Jesus and to admit all his sins, declaring that he is ready to make amends for the evil he has done and to arrange his life in a totally new way based not on selfishness but on serving his neighbour.

Finally we should consider the personal relationship established between Jesus and Zaccheus, the peace that flows from it and Zaccheus' joy at becoming Jesus' fellow worker and friend.

Make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.

How then should we live the Word of Life for this month? Like Zaccheus we are poor sinners. Jesus says to us too 'Make haste and come down', which means: leave your isolation, your fears and your prejudices, your mulling over the past, your fears that you cannot cope, and go to meet Jesus. Believe that his love is greater than your weakness. He sees your good will far more than your mistakes and failures; in fact he came precisely to free and to strengthen that desire for good which is within you like a little flame.

Then, welcome Jesus into the home of your soul, making a fresh start with true repentance and confessing your sins, and begin to love your neighbour in a generous way.

It will not be long before you too discover the inexpressible peace which comes from meeting Jesus. You will experience the joy which comes from being united with him, and building new relationships with true love, the very love that Jesus taught us.

Chiara Lubich


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