Following is Zenit’s translation of the Holy Father’s March 22, 2020, homily delivered at Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. Original text provided by Vatican News.
This passage of John’s Gospel (Cf. 9:1-41) speaks for itself. It’s an announcement of Jesus Christ and also a catechesis. I would like to refer only to one thing. Saint Augustine has a phrase that has always struck me: “I am afraid of Christ when He passes” – “Timeo Dominum Transeuntem.” I am afraid that Jesus will pass.” “But why are you afraid of the Lord?” – “I am afraid of not being aware that it is Christ and let Him pass.” One thing is clear: In Jesus’ presence, the heart’s true sentiments flower, the true attitudes come out. It’s a grace and so Augustine was afraid to let Him pass without being aware that He was passing.
It’s clear here: He passes, He heals a blind man and scandal is unleashed. And then the best and the worst of persons issues. The blind man, the wisdom of the blind man, the way he responds astonishes. He was used to moving about with his hands, he could sense danger, he could sense dangerous things that could make him slip. And he moves as a blind man, with clear, precise argumentation and then he even uses irony, he gives himself this luxury.
The Doctors of the Law knew all the laws — all, all, but they were fixed there. They didn’t understand when God passed. They were rigid, attached to their habits. Jesus Himself says it in the Gospel: attached to habits. And, if to keep these habits they had to do an injustice, it wasn’t a problem, because <their> habits said that that wasn’t justice. And that rigidity led them to commit injustices. The feeling of closure issued before Christ — only this. I counsel all of you today to take the Gospel — chapter 9 of John’s Gospel, and to read it at home, calmly. Once, twice to understand well what happens when Jesus passes: sentiments come out. To understand well what Augustine says to us: “I am afraid of the Lord when He passes, that I am not aware of it and don’t recognize Him, and I don’t convert.” Don’t forget: read today once, twice, three times take all the time you wish to read John’s chapter 9.
The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting <the faithful> to make a Spiritual Communion.
Here is the prayer the Pope recited:
My Jesus, I believe you are really present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar. I love you above all things and I desire You in my soul. As I cannot receive You now sacramentally, at least come spiritually into my heart. As You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You. Do not let me be ever separated from You.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester