Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) - At midday the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the thousands of faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer he commented on the Gospel reading from St. John, which relates the story of the man blind from birth to whom Jesus gave sight. The apostle narrates the event in just a few verses as his intention is to attract attention not to the miracle in itself, but rather to the questions it raises.
"Many times a good act, a work of charity, provokes gossip and questions from people who do not want to know the truth. ... The cured blind man is first interrogated by the astonished crowd ... and then by the doctors of the law. ... In the end, the healed man attains faith, and this is the highest grace that he receives from Jesus: not only to see, but to know Him, to see him as the light of the world", said Francis.
"While the blind man gradually approaches the light, on the contrary the doctors of the law slip ever deeper into inner blindness. Locked away in their arrogance, they believe they already have the light, and so they do not open themselves up to the truth of Jesus and do everything they can to deny the evidence. They call into question the identity of the cured man, and then deny God's action in healing, using the excuse that God does not act on the sabbath and even casting doubt as to whether the man was indeed born blind. Their shunning of the light becomes aggressive and leads to expulsion of the healed man from the temple".
The blind man's path is instead "a journey in stages, starting from knowledge of the name of Jesus. ... Following insistent questioning by the doctors of the law, he first considers him a prophet and then a man close to God. After being removed from the temple, he encounters Jesus again, Who 'opens his eyes' for the second time, revealing his true identity. 'I am the Messiah', he says. At this point, the previously blind man exclaims 'Lord, I believe!', and bows down before Jesus".
"At times our life is sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opens up to the light of God and His grace. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is rather like that of the doctors of law. From the heights of our pride we judge others, even the Lord. Today, we are invited to open ourselves to Christ's light, so that our lives might bear fruit; to eliminate our behaviour that is not Christian; we are all Christians, but we all at times behave in ways which are not Christian, which are sins. We must repent of this, and eliminate these forms of behaviour ... to behave like 'children of light', with humility, patience and mercy. ... Those doctors of the law had neither humility, nor patience, nor mercy. ... We must not be afraid! Let us open ourselves to the light of the Lord, He Who always awaits us, to let us see better, to offer us more light, to forgive us... so we can be reborn to a new life".
After the Angelus prayer the Bishop of Rome greeted a group of Italian soldiers who had made a pilgrimage on foot from Loreto to Rome "praying for a peaceful and just resolution of conflicts. And this is very good. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says that blessed are those who work for peace".
"And let us not forget", he continued, addressing all present, "when we return home, to take the Gospel according to John, chapter 9, and read this story of the blind man whose sight was restored, and of those who supposedly could see yet slipped ever further into blindness".