The eyes that are healed and purified, let the heart to see the light of Christ.

(ZENIT News / Los Angeles, 03.19.2023).-

Don Franco Follo


Fourth Sunday of Lent – LAETARE SUNDAY – Year A – March 19, 2023

Roman Rite

1Sm 16,1B 6-7 10-13A; Ps 23; Eph5.8 to 14; Jn 9, 1-41

Ambrosian Rite

Ex 34.27 to 35.1; Ps 35; 2 Cor 3.7 to 18; Jn 9, 1-38b

Sunday of the Blind Man

1) Light for the eyes of the soul.

While last Sunday with the Gospel of the Samaritan woman Jesus promised the gift of living water (Jn 4, 10.11), this fourth Sunday of Lent, called “Laetare” (= Rejoice) Sunday, presents Christ “light of world” who heals a” man born blind”(Jn 9, 1-41).

Who is a man born blind? It is a person who does not know the beauty of creation and of the creatures. It is one who lives without the power or the knowledge to put a face to the people close to him. It is one who lives without seeing the rainbow in the sky, the colors of the fields, the grandeur of the mountains, the sweetness of the fields, and the colors of the flowers and the trees.

  The blind man is, above all, one who does not know the joy of being able to look with love in the eyes of a dear one. It is a great sadness to have eyes and not see, relying only on what sound and touch let perceive, and to be forced to walk the streets with a stick in hand guessing where the obstacles are.

However, there is a blindness much worse, the one of a man who has no faith, who does not know Jesus, the only Truth that enlightens the world, gives meaning to the events, room to the intelligence, deep to love, and taste to everything that we are and do, including suffering. This man is blind: what does he know of the Light, or rather, with what light does he walk and judge things and facts?

Providentially, Christ, by the touch of his fingers, heals the eyes of the body and of the soul. This is a fact that makes us remember what happened to us the day of our Baptism when our eyes were caressed and blessed by the priest so that they could be open to the Light that is Christ. The light of Christ is given to us to live as children of light after He has healed the eyes of our heart that, because they were ” sick”, were making our soul blind.

  Let us imagine the scene, especially when Jesus takes a fist of soil and mixes it with his saliva. He makes clay and smears it on the eyes of the blind man. This gesture alludes to the creation of man, which the Bible recounts with the symbol of clay shaped and animated by the breath of God (see Gen 2.7). “Adam” means “earthy, kneaded with earth” (Adam derives from the Hebrew word adamah which means earth) and the human body is indeed composed by elements of the earth. Healing the man, Jesus brings about a new creation. To give sight, in a sense, is equivalent to give life. Not by chance it is said that when a woman gives birth, she brings a child to light. To come to light is to enjoy the colors of the world, the freedom to move around without fear, to run and to jump for joy. However, the deeper meaning of this miracle of light is that now not only the eyes of the body can see, but also those of the soul. Then, we can investigate the depths of the mystery of Christ, see his truth and his love, and exclaim: “Lord, I believe” (Jn 9, 38) prostrating ourselves before Him in a gesture of worship, as did the man born blind as soon as he was healed. From that moment on for this man a journey of faith has begun.

2) Walking in the light.

The Church today reproposes the journey to which Jesus had invited the healed man.

It is a journey of growth in the knowledge of the Mystery of Christ and in the experience of Him who is light and leads us to the fullness of vision even amid the obstacles and the gray areas of life.

 The greatest grace that the blind man – who represent each of us- receives from Christ is not to see, but to know Him, to see Him as the “light of the world” (Jn 9, 5). The miracle is that Christ makes us not only see sunlight, but also the light of truth.

In the miracle of the blind man, we see that conversion is allowing our eyes to be open to reality as it is, and not as we see it when we look without the eyes of faith.

  Let us make our own the invitation of St. Bonaventure to a journey of the mind toward God: “Open your eyes, tend your spiritual ear, open your lips and make your heart available so that you may in all creatures see, hear, praise, love, worship, glorify, and honor your God “(Itinerarium mentis in Deum, I, 15).

It is a path that we can accomplish by following the exhortation of Saint Paul “ Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention 
the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. (Eph 5: 8 14 – Second Reading of this Sunday).

It is a journey to which we are called so to be witnesses of the light and love that come from faith. “Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sake and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! It thus transforms our impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in his hands and that, in spite of all darkness, he ultimately triumphs in glory. Faith… gives rise to love. Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God. “(Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 39).

To experience love and to let the light of God in the world: this is what I’d like to invite each and every one of us.

As taught by Pope Francis: “Our lives are sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opened himself to the light, who opened himself to God, who opened himself to his grace. Sometimes unfortunately they are similar to that of the doctors of the law: from the height of our pride, we judge others, and even the Lord!…  The lengthy account opens with a blind man who begins to see, and it closes with the alleged seers who remain blind in soul. In the end the blind man who was healed attains to faith, and this is the greatest grace that Jesus grants him: not only to see, but also to know Him, to see in Him “the light of the world”  “(Angelus, March 30, 2014).

3) Virginity for the Light

The blind man – with his eyes closed but with good reason, the command of Christ – went to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes smeared with mud. When the eyes became cloudless, he saw, believed, and proclaimed the good news. His recovery was bodily and spiritual. For this reason, he saw not only people and things, but the truth of God and man. He saw that God is for man, that God is love, that God gives everything, that God gives himself, that God gives freedom, and that freedom is love and service.

This miracle invites us to ask the Lord first to heal the eyes of our soul, then to be converted to Him, to contemplate Him and to follow Him.

The consecrated virgins in the world are an example of this conversion, made constant journey through a consecration that implies a complete offer of their lives to Christ. God “continually purifies and renews them to let them appear before him holy and immaculate, adorned as a bride for the wedding. In the mystery of the Church, virgin, and mother, by thy Holy Spirit you inspire the variety of gifts and charisms for the building of your kingdom. O Father, you speak to the heart of your daughters and draw them with bonds of love so that, waiting ardent and vigilant, they may fill their lamps and go to meet Christ, King of glory “(Preface of the Mass of the Rite of Consecration of Virgins).

Patristic Reading

Saint John Chrysostom (344/354407)


“And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”

[1.] “And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth.” Being full of love for man, and caring for our salvation, and desiring to stop the mouths of the foolish, He omitteth nothing of His own part, though there be none to give heed. And the Prophet knowing this saith, “That Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou art judged.” (Ps 51,4). Wherefore here, when they would not receive His sublime sayings, but said that He had a devil, and attempted to kill Him, He went forth from the Temple, and healed the blind, mitigating their rage by His absence, and by working the miracle softening their hardness and cruelty, and establishing His assertions. And He worketh a miracle which was no common one, but one which took place then for the first time. “Since the world began,” saith he who was healed, “was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.” (Jn 9,32). Some have, perhaps, opened the eyes of the blind, but of one born blind never. And that on going out of the Temple, He proceeded intentionally to the work, is clear from this; it was He who saw the blind man, not the blind man who came to Him; and so earnestly did He look upon him, that even His disciples perceived it. From this, at least, they came to question Him; for when they saw Him earnestly regarding the man, they asked Him, saying, “Who did sin, this man, or his parents?” A mistaken question, for how could he sin before he was born? and how, if his parents had sinned, would he have been punished? Whence then came they to put this question? Before, when He healed the paralytic, He said, “Behold, thou art made whole, sin no more.” (c. 5,14). They therefore, having understood that he was palsied on account of sin, said,“ Well, that other was palsied because of his sins; but concerning. this man, what wouldest Thou say? hath he sinned? It is not possible to say so, for he is blind from his birth. Have his parents sinned? Neither can one say this, for the child suffers not punishment for the father.” As therefore when we see a child evil entreated, we exclaim, “What can one say of this? what has the child done?”not as asking a question, but as being perplexed, so the disciples spake here, not so much asking for information, as being in perplexity. What then saith Christ?

Jn 9,3. “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents.”

This He saith not as acquitting them of sins, for He saith not simply, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents,” but addeth, “that he should have been born blind1 —but that the Son of God should be glorified in him.” “For both this man hath sinned and his parents, but his blindness proceedeth not from that.” And this He said, not signifying that though this man indeed was not in such case, yet that others had been made blind from such a cause, the sins of their parents, since it cannot be that when one sinneth another should be punished. For if we allow this, we must also allow that he sinned before his birth. As therefore when He declared, “neither hath this man sinned,” He said not that it is possible to sin from one’s very birth, and be punished for it; so when He said, “nor his parents,” He said not that one may be punished for his parents’ sake. This supposition He removeth by the mouth of Ezekiel; “As I live saith the Lord, this proverb shall not be, that is used, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” (Ez 18,3 Ez 18,2). And Moses saith, “The father shall not die for the child, neither shall the child die for the father.” (Dt 24,16). And of a certain king2 Scripture saith, that for this very reason he did not this thing,3 observing the law of Moses. But if any one argue, “How then is it said, ‘Who visiteth the sins of the parents upon the children unto the third and fourth generation’?” (Dt 5,9); we should make this answer, that the assertion is not universal, but that it is spoken with reference to certain who came out of Egypt. And its meaning is of this kind; “Since these who have come out of Egypt, after signs and wonders, have become worse than their forefathers who saw none of these things, they shall suffer,” It saith, “the same that those others suffered, since they have dared the same crimes.” And that it was spoken of those men, any one who will give attention to the passage will more certainly know. Wherefore then was he born blind?

“That the glory4 of God should be made manifest,”5 He saith.

Lo, here again is another difficulty, if without this man’s punishment, it was not possible that the glory of God should be shown. Certainly it is not said that it was impossible, for it was possible, but, “that it might be manifested even in this man.” “What,” saith some one, “did he suffer wrong for the glory of God?” What wrong, tell me? For what if God had never willed to produce him at all? But I assert that he even received benefit from his blindness: since he recovered the sight of the eyes within. What were the Jews profited by their eyes? They incurred the heavier punishment, being blinded even while they saw. And what injury had this man by his blindness? For by means of it he recovered sight. As then the evils of the present life are not evils, so neither are the good things good; sin alone is an evil, but blindness is not an evil. And He who had brought this man from not being into being, had also power to leave him as he was.



Different Reactions of the Human Heart to Miracles: Pope’s Explanation 

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. 


Rafael Llanes

USA: Three Out of Five Workers Fear to Share Their Religious Points of View in the Workplace

(ZENIT Noticias / Washington, 19.03.2023).- The Ipsos survey — by initiative of Viewpoint Diversity Score of the Alliance Defending Freedom, entitled “Freedom in Work” — was carried out with approximately 3,000 employed American adults, between October and November 2022, with a credibility interval of +/- 2.5 points in all the sample. It was published during the legal battle over the firing of an American Christian postal worker, who refused to deliver parcels on Sundays. 

Gerald Groff was fired as a postman. First Liberty Institute, Baker Botts LLP, the Church State Council and the Independence Law Center  presented an appeal to the US Supreme Court for violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Law, which prohibits employers to discriminate for religious beliefs.  

In May 2022, a panel of three Judges of the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 12 against Groff, and concluded that the US Postal Service could oblige him to work on Sundays. Patty Shwartz, the Circuit’s Judge, appointed by Obama, was the author of the majority’s opinion and concluded that to exempt Groff from work on Sunday would “cause excessive difficulty” to the Postal Service. 

“To exempt Groff from work on Sundays caused more than a minimum cost in USPS, because, in reality, he imposed on his fellow works, interrupted the workplace and the flow of work, and lowered employee morale,” wrote Shwartz.

The result of the survey reflects that two-thirds of employed adults  in the United States say that to talk about their political or religious beliefs at work can harm them.

Highlighted also in the survey i that one out of four surveyed knew “someone who has suffered negative consequences for expressing respectfully their religious and political points of view.”

Jeremy Tedesco, the Senior Lawyer and Senior Vice-President of ADF’s Corporative Commitment, said “we created the Business Punctuation Index on different points of view to help businesses to measure and improve their respect in face of religious diversity or diversity of opinion.”

Tedesco added: “Businesses could take great steps to recover the trusty of their employees and to improve their scores in the Business Index by doing four things: first, adopt our policy model of religious adaptations; second, adopt our policy model that protects the exercise of employees’ civil rights outside of work; third, include religious charity organizations in the charity donations programs of employees; and fourth, take part in the survey’s  Business Index’s part, which asks businesses to make known the internal policies and practices that involve civil liberties.”

In addition, the Report points out that 54% of those surveyed believe that to share political content on their own social networks’ accounts can affect their work negatively and 42% of those seeking employment feel less able to ask for employment in a business with a work culture that is hostile to their religious or political points of view.


John Newton

Raped at gunpoint. Christian teen describes her horrific captivity

(ZENIT News / Lahore, 03.19.2023).- A CATHOLIC girl in Pakistan, who was raped and forced to convert by her kidnapper, has spoken out about her harrowing ordeal.

Kinza Sindhu – who is just 14 years old – was abducted from her home in Lahore by five men on 19th September 2022.

Speaking through an interpreter, Miss Sindu told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about her abduction.

She said: “My parents, who are both cooks, were away at work. My elder sister was in the kitchen when I heard a knock on the front door at around 12pm.

“When I opened the door, the armed men pulled me out and pushed me inside a van. I recognised two of them, but the rest were unknown.

“One of them made me take a sedative and I slipped into unconsciousness. Later one of the young guys I knew raped me at gunpoint, at an unknown location.”

Miss Sindu was put under pressure to convert to Islam and marry her rapist – but she refused to co-operate.

Relating her terrifying experiences in her native language Urdu, she said: “The next day the guy who raped me brought a bearded man to register the nikah [Muslim marriage].

“I told them I am a Christian and refused to repeat the Arabic verses. They told me to just listen quietly.

“They made me sign a white paper and took my fingerprints. They also made videos of the ceremony on a phone.”

She told ACN that she survived by praying silently throughout her ordeal.

Her family were able to obtain legal aid and pursued a case in the Lahore courts to get their daughter back.

Miss Sindu said: “My parents had registered a first information report at the local police station regarding my abduction.

“My kidnapper submitted the nikahnama [Islamic marriage contract] in the same police station stating that I had become a Muslim.

“But in Lahore High Court I denied converting to Islam. The judge let me rejoin my family after the second hearing.”

On 22nd October 2022 she was finally able to return home, but she and her parents are not out of danger.

Miss Sindu told ACN: “I am worried for my family who are still receiving threatening calls from unknown numbers.

“The callers are urging them to return me to them or face a beating after being stripped naked.

“They are planning to move to another neighbourhood. I worry about them.”

But Miss Sindu is thankful that she has escaped her captivity.

She said: “Now I am back home. I feel I am closer to God. I had lost all hope. It was God who sent help in the shape of lawyers who fought the case and brought me back.”

The Movement for Solidarity and Peace calculated that up to 1,000 young female Christians and Hindus, aged 12-25, are abducted and forced to convert to Islam every year.