Library of the Apostolic Palace
Sunday, March 22, 2020
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
At the heart of the liturgy of this fourth Sunday of Lent is the theme of light. The Gospel (cf Jn 9: 1-41) tells the episode of the man blind from birth, to whom Jesus gives the sight. This miraculous sign is the confirmation of the affirmation of Jesus who says of himself: "I am the light of the world" (v. 5), the light that illuminates our darkness. This is how Jesus is. He works on two levels: one physical and one spiritual: the blind man first receives the sight of the eyes and then is led to faith in the "Son of man" (v. 35), that is, in Jesus. It's all a path. Today it would be nice if you all took the Gospel of John, chapter ninth, and read this passage: it is so beautiful and it will do us good to read it another time, or twice. The wonders that Jesus does are not spectacular gestures, but have the purpose of leading to faith through a path of inner transformation.
The doctors of the law - who were there, a group - persist in refusing to admit the miracle, and ask the healed man insidious questions. But he displaces them with the force of reality: "One thing I know: I was blind and now I see it" (v. 25). Between the distrust and hostility of those who surround him and question him incredulously, he makes an itinerary that gradually leads him to discover the identity of the One who opened his eyes and confess faith in Him. At first he considers him a prophet ( see v. 17); then he recognizes him as one who comes from God (cf. v. 33); finally he welcomes him as the Messiah and prostrates himself before him (cf. vv. 36-38). He understood that by giving him the sight Jesus "manifested the works of God" (cf. v. 3).
May we also have this experience! With the light of faith he who was blind discovers his new identity. He is now a "new creature", able to see his life and the world around him in a new light, because he entered into communion with Christ, he entered another dimension. He is no longer a beggar marginalized by the community; he is no longer a slave to blindness and prejudice. His path of illumination is a metaphor for the path of liberation from sin to which we are called. Sin is like a dark veil that covers our face and prevents us from seeing ourselves and the world clearly; the forgiveness of the Lord removes this blanket of shadow and darkness and gives us new light. Lent that we are experiencing is an opportune and precious time to draw close to the Lord, asking for his mercy, in the different forms that Mother Church offers us.
The healed blind man, who now sees both with the eyes of the body and with those of the soul, is the image of every baptized person who, immersed in grace, has been torn from darkness and placed in the light of faith. But it is not enough to receive light, it is necessary to become light. Each of us is called to welcome the divine light to manifest it with our whole life. The first Christians, the theologians of the first centuries, said that the community of Christians, that is, the Church, is the "mystery of the moon", because it gave light but was not its own light, it was the light it received from Christ. We too must be "mystery of the moon": to give the light received from the sun, which is Christ, the Lord. St. Paul reminds us today: «Behave therefore as children of light; now the fruit of light consists in all goodness, justice and truth "(Eph 5,8-9). The seed of new life placed in us in Baptism is like the spark of a fire, which purifies us first of all, burning the evil we have in our hearts, and allowing us to shine and illuminate. With the light of Jesus.
May Mary Most Holy help us to imitate the blind man of the Gospel, so that we can be flooded with the light of Christ and walk with him on the path of salvation.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
in these days of trial, while humanity is trembling with the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians to unite their voices to Heaven. I invite all the heads of the churches and the leaders of all the Christian communities, together with all the Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Most High, Almighty God, while simultaneously reciting the prayer that Jesus Our Lord has taught us. So I invite everyone to do it several times a day, but, all together, to recite the Our Father next Wednesday 25 March at noon, all together. On the day when many Christians remember the announcement to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word, may the Lord listen to the unanimous prayer of all his disciples who are preparing to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ.
With this same intention, next Friday March 27, at 6 pm, I will preside over a moment of prayer on the churchyard of St. Peter's Basilica, with the square empty. As of now, I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the media. We will listen to the Word of God, raise our supplication, adore the Blessed Sacrament, with which at the end I will give the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, to which the possibility of receiving the plenary indulgence will be attached.
We want to respond to the virus pandemic with the universality of prayer, compassion, tenderness. Let's stay united. We make our closeness feel to the loneliest and most experienced people. Our closeness to doctors, health workers, nurses and nurses, volunteers ... Our closeness to the authorities who must take tough measures, but for our own good. Our closeness to the policemen, to the soldiers who always try to maintain order on the road, so that the things the government asks to do for the good of all of us are accomplished. Proximity to everyone.
I express my closeness to the people of Croatia affected by an earthquake this morning. May the Lord give them strength and solidarity to face this calamity.
And don't forget: today, take the Gospel and read John's ninth chapter slowly and slowly. I will too. It will do us all good.
And I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Don't forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation