Welcoming pilgrims to Saint Peter’s Sqaure for the midday Angelus, Pope Francis offered his customary reflections on the day’s Gospel before leading the recitation of the Angelus prayer. Recalling how Jesus gives sight to a man blind from birth, the Pope described how this miracle brought about a variety of reactions in people.
The Pope added that we should all read this episode in the Gospel of John recounting this miracle of Jesus, a short and beautiful story of how much the Lord loves us. We read how people respond in different ways to the Lord’s gift of sight to the blind man, whether with a welcome heart, a lukewarm heart, a fearful heart, or a courageous heart.
Blind to the wonder
The Pope went on to describe the variety of reactions to the blind man’s situation. Jesus’ disciples look for a culprit for the blindness, asking whether the blind man or his parents had sinned and thereby caused it. The Pope said instead we should ask what the blind man’s presence in our lives means for us and what the Lord is asking of us.
Others react in different ways, he noted, like those who do not believe he was really blind and his parents who do not speak the amazing truth out of fear of upsetting the religious authorities.
The common element in these reactions are “hearts closed in front of the sign of Jesus: because they seek a culprit, because they do not know how to be surprised, because they do not want to change, because they are blocked by fear.”
“I was blind, now I see”
The blind man instead reacts well to what has happened by simply testifying to what has happened with surprise, gratitude and joy, saying, “I was blind, now I see.” He is now free in body and spirit, bearing open witness to Jesus without fear, the Pope said, unafraid of what others will say or do, having lived a difficult life before of begging and being considered a cursed outcast.
How would you react?
In conclusion, the Pope said we should put ourselves in the shoes of the protagonists in this Gospel episode and think about how we would have reacted then, and what we would do today. Are we able to see and be grateful for the gifts we receive from God, he asked. Do we bear witness to the love and mercy of Jesus, or do we spread criticism and negativity out of our fears and weaknesses? Are we open to sharing with others our joy over the gifts God offers us daily, or do we keep this reaction inside, caged by our fears? And finally, do we view the physical or social challenges of others as a bother, or as occasions to draw near to them with consolation and love?