By Virginia Forrester

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus from the Library of the Apostolic Vatican Palace ion March 22, 2020.

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Before the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

At the center of the Liturgy, of this Fourth Sunday of Lent, is the theme of light. The Gospel (Cf. John 9:1-41) narrates the episode of the blind man from birth, to whom Jesus gives 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. Jesus is so. He effects the illumination at two levels: one physical and one spiritual: the blind man first receives the sight of the eyes and he is then led to faith in the “Son of man” (v. 35), namely, in Jesus. It’s a whole journey. It would be good today if all of you took John’s Gospel, chapter nine, and read this passage: it’s so beautiful and it will do us good to read it again, or twice. The miracles Jesus works aren’t spectacular gestures, but their purpose is to lead to faith through a journey of interior transformation.

The Doctors of the Law — that were there, a group of them — are obstinate in not admitting the miracle and addressed insidious questions to the healed man. However, he floors them with the force of the reality: “One thing I know, that though I was blind now I see” (v. 25). Between the diffidence and hostility of those around him and question him, incredulous, he follows an itinerary that leads him gradually to discover the identity of Him who opened his eyes and to confess his faith in Him. First, he regards Him as a prophet (Cf. v. 17); then he recognizes Him as one who comes from God (Cf. v. 33); finally, he accepts Him as the Messiah and prostrates himself before Him (Cf. vv. 36-38). He has understood that, by giving him his sight, Jesus has “manifested the works of God” (Cf. v. 3).

May we also be able to have this experience! With the light of faith, he who was blind discovers his new identity. He is no 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 of blindness and prejudice. His journey of illumination is a metaphor of the course of liberation from sin to which we are called. Sin is like a dark veil that covers our faces and impedes us from seeing the world and ourselves clearly. The Lord’s forgiveness takes away this blanket of shadow and darkness and gives us new light. May the Lent we are living be an opportune and precious time to approach the Lord, asking for His mercy, in the different ways that Mother Church proposes to us.

The healed blind man, who now sees with the eyes of the body as well as of the soul, is the image of every baptized person that, immersed in Grace, has been torn from the darkness and placed in the light of faith. However, it’s not enough to receive the light, one must become light. Every one of us is called to receive 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, namely, the Church, is the “mystery of the moon,” because she gave light but it was not her own light, it was the light she received from Christ. We must also be “mystery of the moon”: to give the light we receive from the sun, which is Christ the Lord. Saint Paul reminds us of it today: “walk, therefore, as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true”) (Ephesians 5:8-9). The seed of new life put in us in Baptism is like the spark of a fire, which purifies us first of all, burning the evil we have in our heart, and enables 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 inundated by the light of Christ and walk with Him on the way of salvation.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days of trial, while humanity trembles because of the pandemic’s menace, I would like to propose to all Christians to unite their voices to Heaven. I invite all the Heads of 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, reciting contemporaneously the prayer that Jesus Our Lord taught us. I invite all, therefore, to do so several times a day, but, all together, to recite the Our Father next Wednesday, March 25, at midday – all together. On the day in which many Christians recall the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word, may the Lord be able to hear the unanimous prayer of all His disciples that are preparing to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ. With this same intention, next Friday, March 27 at 6:00 pm, I will preside over a moment of prayer in the courtyard of St. Peter’s Basilica, with the empty Square. From now on I invite all to take part spiritually through the means of communication. We will listen to the Word of God, we will elevate our prayer, we will adore the Most Blessed Sacrament, with which at the end I will give the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, to which will be annexed the possibility to receive a Plenary Indulgence.

We want to respond to the pandemic of the virus with the universality of prayer, of compassion and of tenderness. We remain united. Let us make our closeness felt by persons that are most alone and tried. Our closeness to the doctors, to the health workers, men and women nurses, volunteers . . . Our closeness to the Authorities that must take hard measures, but for our good. Our closeness to the police, to soldiers that seek to maintain order always on the street, so that the things will be done that the government asks be done for the good of us all — closeness to all.

I express my closeness to the population of Croatia, affected this morning by an earthquake May the Lord give them the strength and solidarity to face this calamity. And, don’t forget: take the Gospel today and read tranquilly, slowly chapter nine of John. I’ll do it too. It will do us all good.

And I wish you a good Sunday. Don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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