Jesus is always looking for us

When Jesus entered the house of Zacchaeus, many began to murmur that he had stayed with a sinner. Then the Lord pronounced these consoling words, some of the most beautiful in the whole Gospel: Today salvation has come to this house, for this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. It is a call to hope: if ever the Lord should allow us to go through a bad time, a bad patch, if we should feel dark and lost, we must know that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will come out at once to seek us. "He chooses a chief publican: who will despair of himself when he comes to grace," comments St. Ambrose10. The Lord never forgets his own.

The figure of Zacchaeus should also help us to never consider anyone as lost or irretrievable for God. For the inhabitants of Jericho, this chief tax collector was very far from God. The Gospel hints that this was the case. However, from the moment he entered that city, Jesus had his eyes on him. Beyond appearances, Zacchaeus had a heart eager to see the Master. And, as St. Luke immediately shows, he had a soul disposed to repentance, reparation and generosity. So there are many people around us, longing to see Jesus, and waiting for someone to stop in front of them, look at them with understanding and invite them to a new life.

We must never lose hope, even when it seems that all is lost. God's mercy is infinite and omnipotent, and surpasses all our judgments. It is told of a very holy woman a particularly significant event that left a deep mark on her soul, which shows very graphically the extent of divine mercy. A relative of this person put an end to her life by throwing herself from a bridge into the river. The woman was for a time so disconsolate and saddened that she did not dare to pray for him. One day the Lord asked her why she did not intercede for him, as she used to do for others. This person was surprised at Jesus' words, and answered him, "You well know that he threw himself off the bridge and ended his life".... And the Lord replied, "Do not forget that I was between the bridge and the water".

This woman had never doubted God's mercy, but from that day on, her trust in the Lord knew no bounds. And she prayed for that distant relative with particular intensity and faith. A very similar story is told of the life of the Curé of Ars. Both highlight the same reality: whenever we think of God's goodness and compassion for his children, we fall short.

Let us never doubt the Lord, his goodness and his love for mankind, no matter how difficult or extreme the situations in which we find ourselves or the people we want to bring to Jesus. His mercy is always greater than our poor judgments.