This desire, which every man and woman unconsciously carries within, is the prerequisite for the gift of faith.
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
There is a deep desire in us to see Jesus, but very often either because of ourselves or because of others this desire remains just a desire. As the years go by it’s nearly buried by a thousand other things, but nevertheless it never completely goes away.
“Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.”
This desire, which every man and woman unconsciously carries within, is the prerequisite for the gift of faith. The name of this desire is “religious sense,” and it’s something different from faith itself. Religious sense is an opening of the heart that pushes us to look more and more deeply at reality.
The good news of today’s Gospel reminds us that the gift of faith does not depend on us, on our merits or our abilities. Rather, it’s the gift of hearing ourselves called by name by the One who freely and unexpectedly invites us to build a personal relationship him:
“When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.’”
Perhaps for much of our lives we’ve been educated in Christian values, religious practice, and church attendance, but we’ve never asked the question whether we have personally encountered Jesus, or if our faith has remained something general, vague, and cultural. None of us can give ourselves this gift alone, nor can it be passed on as an education is passed on, but everyone can pray today for it to happen. We can dig up that desire that’s at the bottom of our heart.
Who knows if today is the right day for that to happen! If not, we will continue to ask and wait with confidence.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.