(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis encouraged believers on Wednesday to open their eyes and hearts to God’s love for the poor and to the gift of healing that he offers to all who turn to him in faith.
His words came during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s square as he continued his catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy.
The Pope reflected on Jesus’ miracle of restoring sight to a blind man on the way to Jericho as recounted in the Gospel of Luke.
He said that the blind man was sitting on the roadside begging and pointed out that, until not long ago, a person with disability had no choice but to live on charity.
“That blind man, Francis said, represents the many people who, even today, are marginalized because of a disadvantage,” be it physical or of other kind.
The Pope said the man is separated from the crowd that goes about its business as usual. “The street, which can be a place of encounter, for him is a place of solitude” he said.
He said the image of the marginalized person is especially sad against the backdrop provided by the splendid city of Jericho, and he pointed out that Jericho, the place where the people of Israel arrived in after the Exodus from Egypt represents the Promised Land.
The Pope recalled the words uttered by Moses on that occasion: “If one of your kindred is in need in any community in the land which the Lord is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor close your hand against your kin who is in need. For the land will never lack for needy persons; that is why I command you: “Open your hand freely to your poor and to your needy kin in your land”.
“How often do we feel annoyed when we see people in the streets who are sick or hungry? How often are we annoyed by the sight of refugees and migrants?” he said.
That’s why – Francis continued: “God’s Word teaches us that indifference and hostility make us blind and deaf, stopping us from seeing our brothers, preventing us from recognizing the Lord in them”.
Unlike the crowd, the Pope said, Jesus does not ignore the blind man or try to silence his cries. And he points out that when Jesus comes by “there is always liberation, there is always salvation”.
In the Gospel reading the blind man is the only one who recognizes Jesus who turns the eyes of all to the blind man, and, acknowledging his faith, restores his sight.
In this way, the Pope pointed out, Jesus takes the blind man away from the edge of the street and places him at the center of the attention of the crowd and of his disciples.
Thus, not only does the man, now healed, became a disciple of Jesus, but the crowd too now sees; their eyes are opened to the meaning of this encounter of mercy, and they give praise to God.
“Let us remember the times in which we have found ourselves in bad situations, even situations in which we sinned. It was Jesus who took us by the hand and removed us from the margins putting us on the road of salvation” the Pope said.
And he highlighted the fact that the Lord’s passage is an encounter of mercy that brings us together and permits us to recognize our brothers who are in need of help and consolation.
During this Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis concluded: “may we too open our eyes and hearts to God’s love for the poor and to the gift of healing that he offers to all who turn to him in faith”.