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Pope condemns prejudice and gossip, says we all need Christ’s light

© Giancarlo GiulianI/CPP
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The unnamed blind man in today’s Gospel represents all of us who are unable to see things as God does

VATICAN CITY — Before praying the midday Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square today, Pope Francis commented on the Gospel encounter between Jesus and the man born blind (Jn. 9:1-41), and asked Christians to reflect on several essential questions.

The pope explained that Christ performs the miracle of restoring the blind man’s sight “with a kind of symbolic rite: first he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay; then he ordered him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. The man goes, he washes himself, and regains his sight.”

This man was born blind, Pope Francis observed. “Through this miracle Jesus manifests himself as the light of the world,” while “the man born blind represents each of us who were created to know God, but because of sin are like blind men. We all need a new light: the light of faith, which Jesus has given us.”

The man born blind, in regaining his sight, is opened to the mystery of Christ, the pope said. “Jesus asks him: ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ (v. 35).  ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ (v. 36), the blind man responds. ‘You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.’ (v. 37) ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he prostrates himself before Jesus.”

Children of the light

Today’s Gospel should lead us to reflect on our faith and the gift of Baptism, the sacrament which makes us “come to the light,” Pope Francis said.

“The man born blind and healed represents us, when we do not realize that Jesus is the light … when we look elsewhere, when we prefer to trust in little lights, when we grope in the darkness. Indeed, the fact that the blind man did not have a name helps us to see our face and our name reflected in his story,” Pope Francis said.

“We, too, who were ‘enlightened’ by Christ in Baptism are therefore called to behave as children of the light,” he said.

But what does this involve?

“Behaving as children of the light demands a radical change of mentality, an ability to judge men and things according to another scale of values, which comes from God. The sacrament of Baptism demands the choice to live as children of light and to walk in the light,” he said.

From the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said to those gathered in the square: “If I were to ask you now: ‘Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that He can change your heart? Do you believe that he can make you see reality as He sees it, not as we we it? Do you believe that He is the light, that he gives us the true light’? How would you respond? Everyone respond in his heart.”

“What does is mean to have to the true light, and to walk in the light?” Pope Francis then asked.

“First,” he said, “it means abandoning false lights: the cold and fatuous light of prejudice against others, because prejudice distorts reality and loads us down with aversion toward those whom we judge without mercy, and whom we condemn without appeal.”

“This is everyday bread,” he said. “When we gossip about others, we do not walk in the light; we walk in the darkness.”

He continued: “Another false light, because it is seductive and ambiguous, is that of personal interests: if we evaluate men and things based on the criteria of their usefulness to us, our pleasure, our prestige, we are not truthful in relationships and situations.”

“If we go down down the path of seeking only our personal interests, we walk in darkness,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded, asking that the Holy Virgin who first welcomed Jesus, the Light of the world, might obtain for us the grace of welcoming anew the light of faith this Lent, by rediscovering the inestimable gift of Baptism.”

“May this new enlightenment transform us in our attitudes and actions,” he said, “that we too may be, in our poverty and littleness, bearers of a ray of the light of Christ.”

Special Greetings to Milan

After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis in a special way thanked Cardinal Angelo Scola and people of Milan for their warm welcome during his one-day visit to the northern Italian archdiocese Saturday.

“I felt at home,” the pope said, “with everyone: believers and non-believers … I will tell you something: I witnessed that what they say is true: In Milan, one receives with the heart in hand.”

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