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The Conversion of Zacchaeus.

By Maria Valtorta 17th July 1944. I see a large square, which looks like a market and is shaded by palms and other lower leafy trees. he palm!trees grow here and there, without any order and their top lea"es rustle in the warm upper bree#e, which raises a reddish dust, as if it came from a desert or from unculti"ated places of reddish earth. he other trees, instead, form shady porches along the sides of the square, and "endors and buyers ha"e taken shelter under them, in a restless shouting din. In a corner of the square, e$actly where the main road leads into it, there is a primiti"e e$cise office. here are scales and measures, and a bench at which is sat a little man who o"ersees, watches and deals in cash and to whom e"erybody speaks, as if he were "ery well known. I know that he is %acchaeus, the e$ciseman, as many people address him, some to ask about the e"ents of the town, and they are mainly strangers, some to pay their ta$es. &any are surprised at seeing him worried. 'e seems in fact absent!minded and engrossed in thought. 'e replies in monosyllables and at times with gestures, which ama#es many, who know that %acchaeus is usually talkati"e. (ome ask him

whether he is not feeling well or if any of his relati"es is ill. )ut he says no. *nly twice he shows keen interest. he first time when he questions two people who ha"e come from Jerusalem and are speaking of the +a#arene, of 'is miracles and teaching. %acchaeus then asks many questions, - Is 'e really as good as they say. /nd do 'is words correspond to facts. 0oes 'e really make use of the mercy which 'e preaches. *n behalf of e"erybody, also of publicans. Is it true that 'e does not re1ect anybody. 2 /nd he listens, thinks and sighs. he second time when someone points out to him a bearded man, who is passing by with a little donkey laden with household goods. - (ee, %acchaeus. hat is %acharias, the leper. 'e li"ed in a sepulchre for ten years. +ow that he is cured, he has bought the furnishings for his house, which was emptied according to the 3aw, when he and his relati"es were declared lepers. 2 - 4all him. 2 %acharias comes. - 5ere you a leper. 2 - I was and so were my wife and my two children. &y wife was the first to be infected and we did not notice it at once. he children became infected sleeping with their mother, and I, when I approached my wife. 5e were all lepers6 5hen it was found out, they sent us away from the "illage7 hey could ha"e

left us in our house, as it was the last one7 at the end of the street. 5e would not ha"e caused any trouble7 I had already grown a "ery high hedge, so that we might not e"en be seen. It was already a sepulchre7 but it was our home7 hey sent us away. /way6 /way6 +o town wanted us. /nd quite rightly6 +ot e"en our own town had wanted us. 5e stayed near Jerusalem, in an empty sepulchre. &any poor wretches are there. )ut the children died, in the cold of the ca"e. he disease, cold and star"ation soon killed them7 hey were two boys7 they were beautiful before the disease. hey were strong and beautiful, dark brown like two blackberries in /ugust, curly and li"ely. hey had become two skeletons co"ered with sores7 hey had no hair left, their eyes were sealed with scabs, their feet and hands were falling off in white scales. I watched the bodies of my children waste away67 hey no longer looked like human beings the morning they died7 one after the other within a few hours7 I buried them under a little earth and many stones, like the carrion of animals, while their mother screamed7 / few months later their mother died7 and I was left alone7 I was waiting to die and no one would dig a hole to bury me7 I was almost blind when one day the +a#arene passed by. 9rom my sepulchre I shouted, :Jesus6 (on of 0a"id, ha"e mercy on me6: / beggar, who was not afraid to bring me his bread, had told me that he had been cured of his blindness, by shouting that in"ocation. /nd he said, :'e did not only gi"e me the sight of

my eyes, but also of my soul. I saw that 'e is the (on of <od and I see e"eryone through 'im. hat is why, brother, I do not shun you, but I bring you bread and faith. <o to the 4hrist. (o that one more soul may bless 'im:. I could not go. &y feet, ulcerated to the bone, would not let me walk7 in any case7 I would ha"e been stoned, if they saw me. I waited carefully for 'im to pass. 'e often passed by coming to Jerusalem. *ne day I saw, as far as I could see, a cloud of dust on the road and many people and I heard shouts. I dragged myself to the brow of the hill, where the sepulchral ca"es were, and when I thought I could see a bare fair!haired head shine among other co"ered ones, I shouted aloud, at the top of my "oice. I shouted three times, until my "oice reached 'im. 'e turned round. 'e stopped. hen 'e came towards me, all alone. 'e came right under the spot where I was and 'e looked at me. 'e was handsome, kind, with a "oice, a smile67 'e asked, :5hat do you want &e to do for you.:. :I want to be cleansed:. :0o you belie"e that I can. 5hy.: 'e asked me. :)ecause =ou are the (on of <od:. :0o you belie"e that.:. :I belie"e it: I replied. :I see the &ost 'igh flash in 'is glory abo"e =our head. (on of <od, ha"e mercy on me6:.

'e then stretched out a hand and 'is face was abla#e. 'is eyes seemed two blue suns, and he said, :I want it. )e cleansed: and 'e blessed me with a smile67 /h6 5hat a smile6 I percei"ed a strength enter me. 3ike a sword of fire which ran searching for my heart, it ran through my "eins. &y heart, which was so diseased, became as it was when I was twenty years old, and the ice!cold blood became warm and fast!flowing in my "eins. +o more pains, no more weakness, and a 1oy, what a 1oy67 'e was looking at me> with 'is smile 'e made me blissful. 'e then said, :<o, show yourself to the priests. =our faith has sa"ed you:. I then realised that I had been cured and I looked at my hands and legs. here were no more sores. here was fresh rosy flesh where pre"iously the bone was unco"ered. I ran to a little stream and I looked at myself. &y face also was clean. I was clean6 4lean after being loathsome for ten years67 *h6 5hy did 'e not pass by before. 5hen my wife and children were ali"e. 'e would ha"e cured us. +ow, see. I am buying things for my house7 )ut I am all alone67 2 - 'a"e you not seen 'im any more. 2 - +o, but I know that 'e is in this area and that is why I ha"e come. I would like to bless 'im once again and be blessed by 'im to ha"e strength in my solitude. 2 %acchaeus lowers his head and is silent. he group breaks up.

(ome time passes. It gets warmer. he market place empties. he e$ciseman with his head resting on one hand is pensi"e, sitting at his desk. - 'ere is the +a#arene6 2 shout some children, pointing at the main road. 5omen, men, sick people, beggars rush towards 'im. he square is empty. *nly some donkeys and camels, tied to the palmtrees, remain where they were, and %acchaeus remains at his desk. 'e then stands up and climbs on his desk. )ut he cannot see anything because many people ha"e pulled off branches and are wa"ing them 1oyfully and Jesus is bending o"er sick people. %acchaeus then takes off his garment and ha"ing on only his short tunic he climbs one of the trees. 'e goes up the large smooth trunk with difficulty as his short arms and legs make climbing difficult. )ut he succeeds and sits astride two branches as on a perch. 'is legs hang from that kind of railing and from his waist upwards he leans out as if he were at a window and he watches. he crowds arri"e in the square. Jesus looks up and smiles at the solitary spectator perched on the branches. - %acchaeus, come down at once. I am staying at your house today 2 'e orders. /nd %acchaeus, after a moment of astonishment, his face purple with e$citement, lets himself slide down on the ground like a

sack. 'e is so e$cited that he is hardly able to put on his clothes. 'e closes his books and cash!desk with gestures which he would like to be "ery fast, but instead are "ery slow. )ut Jesus is patient, 'e caresses some children while waiting. %acchaeus is ready at last. 'e approaches the &aster and leads 'im to a beautiful house with a large garden around it, in the centre of the town. / beautiful town. +ot much inferior to Jerusalem with regard to its buildings, if not to its si#e. Jesus goes in and while waiting for the meal to be made ready, he takes care of sick and healthy people. 5ith such patience7 as 'e only is capable. %acchaeus comes and goes, busying himself. 'e is beside himself with 1oy. 'e would like to speak to Jesus. )ut Jesus is always surrounded by a crowd of people. /t last Jesus dismisses e"erybody saying, - 4ome back at sunset. <o to your homes now. Aeace be with you. 2 he garden empties and the meal is ser"ed in a beautiful cool hall facing the garden. %acchaeus has done things in great style. I do not see any other relati"es, so I think that %acchaeus is single and li"es only with many ser"ants. /t the end of the meal, when the disciples scatter in the shade of bushes to rest, %acchaeus remains with Jesus in the cool hall. In actual fact Jesus remains alone for a little while, because

%acchaeus withdraws to let 'im rest. )ut he comes back and looks through a slit in the curtains. 'e sees that Jesus is not sleeping, but is pensi"e. 'e then approaches 'im. 'e is carrying a hea"y coffer, which he lays on the table near Jesus and says, - &aster7 they ha"e spoken to me about =ou. 9or some time. *ne day on a mountain side =ou said so many truthful things, that our doctors cannot e$cel them. hey remained in my heart7 and since then I ha"e been thinking of =ou7 hen I was told that =ou are good and that =ou do not re1ect sinners. I am a sinner, &aster. hey told me that =ou cure sick people. &y heart is diseased, because I defrauded, I practised usury, I ha"e been a depra"ed fellow, a thief, hard on the poor. )ut now, I ha"e been cured, because =ou spoke to me. =ou approached me and the demon of sensuality and riches fled. /nd as from today, I belong to =ou, if =ou do not re1ect me, and to pro"e to =ou that I am reborn in =ou, I di"est myself of the ill!acquired riches and I gi"e =ou half of my wealth for the poor and I will use the other half to gi"e back, multiplied by four, what I got by fraud. I know whom I cheated. hen, after handing back to each of them what belongs to them, I will follow =ou, &aster, if =ou allow me7 2 - I do want that. 4ome. I ha"e come to sa"e and call people to the 3ight. oday 3ight and (al"ation ha"e come to the house of your heart. hose who o"er there, beyond the gate, are grumbling because I ha"e redeemed you sitting at your banquet,

are forgetting that you are a son of /braham as they are, and that I ha"e come to sa"e who was lost and to gi"e 3ife to those whose spirits were dead. 4ome, %acchaeus. =ou ha"e understood &y word better than many people who follow &e only to be able to accuse &e. herefore you will be with &e as from now on. 2 he "ision ends here. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1Bth July 1944. Jesus says, - here is yeast and yeast. here is the yeast of <ood and the yeast of C"il. he yeast of C"il, a (atanic poison, ferments more easily than the yeast of <ood, because it finds matter more suitable for fermentation in the heart of man, in the thought of man, in the flesh of man, seduced all three by a selfish will, contrary therefore to the uni"ersal 5ill, which is the 5ill of <od. he will of <od is uni"ersal because it is ne"er confined to a personal thought, but it takes into consideration the welfare of the whole uni"erse. +othing can increase the perfection of <od in any way, as 'e has always possessed e"erything in a perfect manner. hus there can be no thought in 'im of personal gain inciting any of 'is actions. 5hen we say, : his is done to the

greater glory of <od, in the interest of <od:, we do not mean that di"ine glory is in Itself susceptible to impro"ement, but that e"erything which in 4reation bears the mark of good and any person doing good, and thus deser"ing to possess it, is adorned with the sign of di"ine <lory and thus gi"es glory to <lory itself, 5hich has created all things gloriously. It is, in short, the testimony which people and things bear to <od, gi"ing e"idence, with their deeds, of the perfect *rigin from 5hich they come. hus, when <od orders or ad"ises you to do an action or inspires you with one, 'e does not aim at any selfish interest, but at your welfare, with altruistic charitable mind. hat is, therefore, the reason why the 5ill of <od is ne"er selfish, on the contrary it is a 5ill which aims entirely at altruism and uni"ersality. It is the only and true (trength in the uni"erse which considers uni"ersal welfare. *n the contrary, the yeast of <ood, spiritual embryo coming from <od, grows through difficulties and hardships, as it has against itself the reactions propitious to the other one, the flesh, the heart, the thought of man, per"aded with selfishness, the antithesis of <ood, which by its origin can be but 3o"e. &ost men lack the will of <ood and consequently <ood becomes sterile and dies, or li"es so poorly that it does not lea"en, it remains as it was. here is no gra"e fault. )ut there is not e"en

the effort to do the greatest good. he spirit thus lies inert, not dead, but unfruitful. )ear in mind that not to do e"il ser"es only to a"oid 'ell. o en1oy at once beautiful Aaradise one must do good. It is essential. /s much good as one can do, struggling against oneself and other people. )ecause I said that I had come not to bring peace but war, also between father and children, brothers and sisters, when such war was to defend the 5ill of <od and 'is 3aw against the abuse of human wills aiming at what is contrary to what <od wants. In %acchaeus the tiny quantity of yeast of good had lea"ened a huge mass. *nly an original small particle had fallen into his heart, they had related &y (ermon on the &ount to him. /nd they had done it so badly, mutilating it of many parts, as happens with reported speeches. %acchaeus was a publican and a sinner, but not through bad will. 'e was like one who sees things badly because the "eil of cataract co"ers his eye!lenses. )ut he knows that once the "eil is remo"ed, he can see properly once again. /nd that sick person wants the "eil to be remo"ed. %acchaeus was like that. 'e was neither con"inced nor happy. 'e was not con"inced of Aharisaic practices, which had already replaced the true 3aw. /nd he was not happy with his way of li"ing.


'e was instincti"ely seeking 3ight. he true 3ight. 'e saw a flash of it in that fragment of &y speech and he hid it in his heart like a treasure. )ecause he lo"ed it ! bear this in mind, &ary because he lo"ed it, the flash became more and more li"ely, "ast and "ehement, and caused him to see <ood and C"il clearly and to choose rightly, generously cutting off all the tentacles which pre"iously, from things to his heart and from his heart to things, had en"eloped him in a net of malicious sla"ery. :)ecause he lo"ed it:. hat is the secret of success or failure. *ne succeeds when one lo"es. *ne has little success when one lo"es niggardly. *ne has no success at all when one does not lo"e. In anything. /ll the more in the things of <od, where, as <od is in"isible to corporal senses, I dare say, one must lo"e perfectly, as far as a creature can reach perfection, in order to succeed in an enterprise. In holiness, in this case. %acchaeus, disgusted with the world and the flesh, as he was disgusted with the meanness of Aharisaic practices, so captious and se"ere for other people, so indulgent for them, lo"ed the little treasure of a word of &ine, which reached him by chance, speaking from a human point of "iew. 'e lo"ed it as the most beautiful thing that his forty!year!old life had e"er possessed, and from that moment he concentrated his heart and thought on that point.


It is not only in e"il that manEs heart is where his treasure is. )ut also in good. 0id saints perhaps during their lifetime not ha"e their hearts where their treasure was, in <od. =es, they did. /nd that is why, looking only at <od, they passed on the Carth, without contaminating their souls with the mud of the Carth. hat morning, e"en if I had not appeared there, I would ha"e conquered a proselyte. )ecause the speech of the leper had completed %acchaeusE metamorphosis. /t the bench of the e$cise!house there was no longer a cheating "icious publican, but a man repenting his past and decided to change life. If I had not gone to Jericho, he would ha"e closed his office, he would ha"e taken his money and come looking for &e, because he could no longer li"e without the water of ruth, without the bread of 3o"e, without the kiss of 9orgi"eness. he usual harsh critics who always watched &e to reproach &e, did not see that and they could understand it e"en less. /nd that is why they were ama#ed at &y ha"ing a meal with a sinner. *h6 I wish you ne"er 1udged, lea"ing that task to <od, you poor blind people, who cannot e"en 1udge yoursel"es6 I ne"er went with sinners to appro"e of their sin. I went to remo"e them from sin, because they often had only the e$terior aspect of sin, their contrite souls had already changed into new souls, li"ing to e$piate. (o was I with a sinner. +o, I was with a redeemed soul,


in need only of a guide to stand up in its weakness of a soul risen from death. 'ow much %acchaeusE episode can teach you6 he power of upright intention that e$cites desire. Fpright desire that urges one to seek deeper and deeper knowledge of <ood and to long for <od continuously until one reaches 'im, true repentance that gi"es the courage of abnegation. %acchaeus had the upright intention of listening to words of true 0octrine. 5hen he heard some, his upright desire urged him to greater desire and thus to uninterrupted research for that 0octrine> the research for <od, hidden in the true 0octrine, detached him from the mean gods of richness and sensuality and made him a hero of renunciation. :If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you ha"e and follow &e: I said to the rich young man, but he did not do that. )ut %acchaeus, although more hardened in a"arice and sensuality, was able to do it. )ecause, through the few 5ords related to him, like the blind beggar and the leper cured by &e, he saw <od. 4an a soul that has seen <od, find any more attraction in the little things of the Carth. Is that e"er possible, &y little bride. 2 19th July 1944. Jesus says, - In &y se"eral beatitudes I enunciated the requisites necessary to achie"e them and the rewards that will be gi"en to the blessed

ones. )ut while the categories mentioned are different, the reward is the same, if you consider the situation carefully, to en1oy the same things that <od en1oys. 0ifferent categories. I ha"e already e$plained that <od with 'is thought creates souls of different tendency, so that the Carth may en1oy a 1ust balance in all its inferior and superior necessities. If the rebellion of man upsets that balance, as he always wants to go against the di"ine 5ill, 5hich guides him lo"ingly along the 1ust way, it is not <odEs fault. &en, perpetually dissatisfied with their situation, in"ade or upset other peopleEs estates, either by means of true and proper abuse of power, or by attempts at such abuse. 5hat are world wars, family feuds, professional warfare, but such acti"e abuse. 5hat are social re"olutions, what are the doctrines that clothe themsel"es with the name :social:, but in actual fact are nothing but arrogance and the "ery opposite of charity, because they neither want nor practise the 1ustice they preach, on the contrary they o"erflow with outbreaks of "iolence, which do not relie"e oppressed people, but increase their numbers to the ad"antage of a few arrogant fellows. )ut where I, <od, reign, such alterations do not take place. +othing upsets order in &y Gingdom and in the spirits which are really &ine. hus the se"eral !aspects of the multiform holiness of <od are li"ed and rewarded, because <od is 1ust,

pure, peaceful, merciful, free from the greed of fleeting riches, 1oyful in the happiness of 'is lo"e. (ome souls tend to one form, some to another. hey tend in an eminent manner, because all "irtues are present in saints. )ut one predominates, and on account of it, that saint is particularly celebrated among men. )ut I bless and reward him on account of all of them, because the reward is :to en1oy <od: both for the peaceful and the merciful, for those who lo"e 1ustice and for those who are persecuted by in1ustice, for the pure and the distressed, for the meek and for the pure in spirit. he pure in spirit6 'ow badly is this definition always understood, e"en by those who percei"e its right meaning6 /ccording to human superficiality and to foolish human irony, and according to ignorance, which considers itself wise, pure in spirit means :stupid:. he better class of people think that the spirit is intelligence, thought> those who are more material consider it artfulness and malice. +o. he spirit is by far superior to intelligence. It is the king of e"erything in you. /ll physical and moral qualities are sub1ects and ser"ants of that king. hat is the situation where a creature de"oted to <od in a filial manner knows how to keep things in the right place. 5here instead a creature is not de"oted in a filial manner, idolatries take place, and the maidser"ants


become queens and depose the spirit king. /narchy which causes disaster like all anarchies. Ao"erty in spirit consists in ha"ing the so"ereign freedom from e"erything that is the delight of man, and for which man goes to the e$tent of committing material crime or the unpunished moral crime that too often escapes human law, but does not make fewer "ictims, on the contrary it makes more and with consequences which are not limited to taking the life of the "ictim, but often depri"e both the "ictims and their relati"es of their good reputation and li"elihood. he man poor in spirit is no longer ensla"ed by riches. C"en if he does not go so far as to repudiate them materially, depri"ing himself of them and of e"ery comfort by 1oining a monastic order, he knows how to use them sparingly for himself, which is a double sacrifice, in order to be prodigal of gifts to the poor of the world. 'e has understood &y sentence, :&ake friends by means of un1ust riches:. *f his money, which might be the enemy of his spirit, leading it to lust, greed and anticharity, he makes a ser"ant that le"els the way to 'ea"en for him ! the rich, poor in spirit ! a way completely spread with his mortifications and his charitable deeds for the miseries of his fellow!creatures. 'ow many in1ustices the man poor in spirit mends and cures6 'is own in1ustices of the time when, like %acchaeus, he was but


a greedy hard!hearted man. In1ustices of his neighbours, whether ali"e or dead. (ocial in1ustices. =ou erect monuments to people who were great only because they were o"erbearing. 5hy do you not erect monuments to the secret benefactors of destitute mankind, to the poor and working classes, to those who use their wealth not to make their own li"es a perpetual feast, but to make life brighter, better and more ele"ated for those who are poor, for those who suffer, for those whose functional faculties are impaired, for those left in ignorance by o"erbearing people, because ignorance ser"es their hateful aims better. 'ow many there are, also among those who are not rich, nay, who are little less than poor, and yet they can sacrifice the :two farthings: they possess, in order to relie"e a misery, which, being without the 3ight which they ha"e ! and their beha"iour makes one understand that they do ha"e it ! is greater than their own6 hose are poor in spirit who, losing their possessions, whether large or small, know how to keep their peace and hope, without cursing or hating anyone, either <od or men. he wide category of the :poor in spirit:, which I mentioned as the first one ! because I could say that without such freedom of the spirit from all the delights of life, it is not possible to ha"e the other "irtues which gi"e beatitude ! is di"ided and subdi"ided into many forms.

'umility of thought which does not swell with pride an does not proclaim itself super!thought, but makes use of the gift of <od acknowledging its *rigin, for <ood. *nly for that. <enerosity in affections, whereby one can depri"e oneself also of them, in order to follow <od, also of life, the most real wealth and the most lo"ed instincti"ely by the animal creature. /ll &y martyrs were generous in that way, because their spirits had become poor, in order to become :rich: in the only eternal riches, <od. Justice in lo"ing our personal things. It is our duty to lo"e them, because they are testimony of Aro"idence in our fa"our. I ha"e already spoken about that in pre"ious dictations. )ut we must not lo"e them more than we lo"e <od or 'is 5ill> you must not lo"e them to the e$tent of cursing <od, if man snatches them from you. /nd finally, I would repeat it, freedom from the sla"ery of money. hose are the different forms of that spiritual po"erty that I said will possess 'ea"en out of 1ustice. Aut under your feet all the fleeting riches of human life to possess the eternal riches. 4onsider the Carth and its deceitful fruit, which is sweet outside and bitter inside, as the last thing, and li"e working to conquer 'ea"en. *h6 there is no fruit there with a false fla"our. here is the ineffable fruit of the en1oyment of <od.

%acchaeus had understood that. hat sentence was the arrow that opened his heart to 3ight and 4harity. It opened it to &e as I approached him to say to him, :4ome:. /nd when I came up to him to call him, he was already :poor in spirit:. 'e was therefore capable of possessing 'ea"en. 2