ZENIT News / Vatican City, 03.19.2023).- Some 25,000 people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square to listen to the Holy Father’s Sunday address and to pray the Angelus with him. It so happens that on Sunday, March 19, Father’s Day was celebrated in Italy, Spain and other countries. In Rome, moreover, the city’s marathon was halted.
Following is the Pontiff’s address translated into English.
* * *
Today the Gospel shows us Jesus giving sight to a blind man from birth (cf. John 9: 1-41). However, this miracle was not well received by various people and groups. Let’s look at it in detail.
But first, I would like to say to you: today take John’s Gospel and read about this miracle of Jesus; John’s way of recounting it is beautiful. Chapter 9 can be read in two minutes. It shows how Jesus proceeds and how the human heart proceeds: the good human heart, the lukewarm human heart,the fearful human heart and the courageous human heart — Chapter 9 of John’s Gospel. Read it today, it will help you a lot. And how do people receive this sign?
In the first place are Jesus’ disciples who, in face of a blind man from
birth, end up gossiping. They wonder if the fault is that of his parents or his own (cf. v.2). They look for someone to blame, and we often fall into this, which is so comfortable. To look for the guilty one, instead of posing to ourselves exacting questions in life. And, today, we can say: What does the presence of this person mean to us? What does he asks of us?
Then, once cured, the reactions increase. The first is that of neighbours, who are skeptical. “This man has always been blind. It’s not possible that he sees now; it can’t be him, it must be someone else!” Skepticism (cf. vv. 8-9). It’s unacceptable for them, better leave everything as it was before (cf. v. 16) and not get involved in this problem. They are afraid; they are afraid of the Religious Authorities and don’t pronounce themselves (cf. vv. 18-21).
In all these reactions, closed hearts emerge in face of Jesus’ sign, for various motives: because they look for one who is culpable, because they are unable to be surprised, because they don’t want to change, because they are blocked by fear. And many situations today are like this. In face of something which in fact is a message of a person’s witness, it’s a message of Jesus, we fall into this: we look for another explanation, we don’t want to change, we look for a more elegant way out rather than accept the truth.
The only one who reacts well is the blind man: he, happy to be able to see, testifies to what happened to him very simply: “I was blind and now I see” (v. 25). He tells the truth.
First he needed to beg to live and suffered the prejudices of the people: “He is poor and blind from birth. He must suffer, he must pay for his sins or those of his ancestors.” Now, free in body and soul, he gives witness of Jesus. He doesn’t invent anything and doesn’t hide anything. “I was blind and now I see.” He’s not afraid of what others will say. He has already experienced the bitter taste of marginalization his whole life, he has felt others’ indifference, the contempt of passers-by, of those who considered him a reject of society, useful at most for alms out of mercy. Now, cured, he’s no longer afraid of those attitudes of contempt, because Jesus has given him full dignity. And this is clear, it happens always: when Jesus heals us, He gives back dignity to us, Jesus’ healing, gives back our dignity — full, healthy. A dignity that issues from the bottom of the heart, that takes the whole of life; and He, on the Sabbath, in front of everyone, has freed him and given him sight without asking him for anything, not even a Thank You. And he gives witness.
This is the dignity of a noble person, of a person that knows he is healed and begins again, is reborn, that rebirth in life that is talked about today in “In His Image” [the Pope was referring to an Italian TV program, ndr]: to be reborn.
Brothers and sisters, all these personalities of today’s Gospel put us also in the middle of the scene, so we ask ourselves: What position do we take? What would we have said then? And, above all, What are we doing today? As the blind man, do we know how to see the good and to be grateful for the gifts we receive?
I wonder, what is my dignity like? What is your dignity like? Do we give witness to Jesus or do we spread criticism and suspicion? Are we free in face of prejudices or do we join those who spread negativity and gossip? Are we happy to say that Jesus loves us, that He saves us or, as the parents of the blind man from birth, do we let ourselves be caged out of fear of what people will think? The lukewarm of heart who don’t accept the truth and don’t have the courage to say: “No, this is like this.” And also, how do we accept the difficulties and indifference of others? How do we accept people that have many limitations in life, whether physical, as this blind man, or social, as beggars we meet on the street? And do we see this as a curse or as an occasion to come close to them with love?
Brothers and sisters, let us pray today for the grace to be able to be surprised every day by God’s gifts and to see the different circumstances of life, including the most difficult to accept, as occasions to do good, as Jesus did with the blind man. May the Virgin help us in this, together with Saint Joseph, just and faithful man.