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April 2014
Vol. XX, No. 2

To the Man Born Blind: The Light of Christ, The Light of Faith

The account of Jesus healing the man who was born blind in the Gospel of John, Chapter 9 is extraordinarily rich. It explores the effect of this miraculous and sudden cure on the man himself, the skeptical reaction of synagogue officials who questioned the man about the event, the intimidation of his parents, and the man’s growing courage and faith during his experience. All this makes it one of the most intriguing — and thought-provoking — of our Sunday Gospel readings.

On Laetare Sunday, March 30, Pope Francis devoted his Angelus address to this Gospel account of Jesus’ giving sight — thus light — to the man born in darkness, and what this means for us.

“We must be open to the light of Christ,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus message  The pope compared the man blind from birth and whose sight is restored, to “those who supposedly have sight but continue to remain blind in their soul.”

“While the blind man gradually approaches the light,” the Holy Father said, “by contrast the doctors of the law slip ever deeper into inner blindness. Locked in their arrogance, they believe they already have the light, and so do not open themselves to the truth of Jesus. They do everything to deny the evidence.”

The pope said that “our life is sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opened to the light of God and His grace. But, sometimes, unfortunately, it is also like that of the doctors of law, in that, “from the height of our pride we judge others, and even the Lord!”

“Today, we are invited to open ourselves to the light of Christ to bear fruit in our lives, to eliminate behaviors that are not Christian … that are sins. We must repent of this, and eliminate these behaviors to walk well on the way of holiness.” This holiness, he said “has its origin in baptism. We, too, have been ‘enlightened’ by Christ in baptism, so that, as Saint Paul reminds us, we can act as ‘children of light’ (Ephesians 5:8), with humility, patience, mercy. These teachers of the law had neither humility nor patience nor mercy!”

But, Pope Francis stressed, we are invited to open ourselves to the light of Christ to bear fruit in our lives, to eliminate behavior that is not Christian, to walk firmly on the path of holiness.

“I would suggest,” said Pope Francis, that “today, when you get home, take the Gospel of John and read this passage in Chapter 9, so we can see if our heart is open or closed toward God and our neighbor.

“We must not be afraid! Let us be open to the light of the Lord! He always waits for us to see better, to give us more light, to forgive us. Do not forget this!”

— Helen Hull Hitchcock

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