Christ salvation

Gospel in Art: Salvation Comes to the House of Zacchaeus

Stamp of Sierra Leone, The Son of Man, after René Magritte1964. Stamp issued in 2016 © Alamy

Source: Christian art

Gospel of November 15, 2022
Luke 19:1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through the city when a man named Zacchaeus appeared: he was one of the chief tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was eager to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too small and couldn’t see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus who was to pass by. When Jesus arrived there, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry up, because I have to stay at your place today. And he rushed over and greeted her happily. They all complained when they saw what was happening. “He went to live with a sinner,” they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord: ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half of my goods to the poor, and if I have deceived someone, I will give them back fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man is also a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.

Reflection on stamp

René Magritte painted The Son of Man in Self-Portrait in 1964. The painting featured on this Sierra Leone stamp issued in 2016. His neat overcoat and bowler hat suggest a rather conformist and well-to-do businessman, the kind of man normally doesn’t want to stand out in the crowd. Yet most of his face is hidden, surrealistically, by a large green apple and some leaves. Looking closer, you can pretty much see his eyes peek to the sides. Magritte commented that the apple “hides the visible but hidden”.

In today’s gospel, a wealthy man climbs a sycamore tree (rather than an apple tree) to see who or what was causing a wave of disturbance, only to find himself spotted by Jesus. In his book Wellsprings the Indian Jesuit, Anthony de Mello, invited the reader to look and to be looked at by Jesus who “discovers by his gaze the love, honesty and kindness which are hidden in every human being…

I expose myself to the loving gaze of Jesus… I am amazed at the goodness he detects in me. I tend to blame myself for all the wrong I do – he uncompromisingly condemns my sin, but stubbornly refuses to condemn the sinner. I recoil at first from his loving gaze because it is too indulgent and in my self-hatred I cannot bear it, but I know I must sustain that gaze if I am to learn to look at others like him. . look at me.”

Zacchaeus’ subsequent generosity is not surprising after such an exchange of glances between Jesus and himself.

Born in Preston, England, Sister Pauline Darby SHCJ taught for a few years before training as a facilitator and worked with schools and parishes in different dioceses in addition to religious congregations at home and abroad. Pauline uses art in facilitation and retreat contexts and is a passionate iconographer herself. Currently, she serves in Rome as a leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.


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