.- Pope Benedict said during Sunday's Angelus that Christ heals men and women from spiritual blindness and gives them strength to “conquer evil” though the grace of baptism.
On April 3, the Pope invited Catholics to reflect on the grace of the sacrament and emphasized that this week's “Laetare” Sunday is a time of rejoicing and celebration as Christians prepare for Easter.
Pope Benedict said that an illustration of this joy can be found in the story of the blind man healed by Jesus in today's Gospel reading from John. The blind man not only gains his physical sight but comes to believe in Christ.
All people, “due to the sin of Adam were born 'blind,' but in the baptismal font we were illuminated by the grace of Christ,” he said. “Sin wounded humanity and destined it to the darkness of death, but in Christ shines the newness of life and the goal to which we are called.”
“In Him,” the Pope said, “reinvigorated by the Holy Spirit, we receive the strength to conquer evil and do good.”
The Pope pointed out that in the Gospel reading, those within the narrative have starkly different reactions to the miracle. The blind man himself goes through a gradual “walk of faith.” He meets Jesus who heals him, considers him a prophet, and then his spiritual “eyes” are opened to see Christ as the Son of God.
However, the Pharisees do not accept the miracle as they do not accept Jesus as the Messiah, and the once blind man's parents are now fearful of judgment.
The Pope asked, “what attitude do we assume before Jesus?”
“Christian life,” he said, “is a continuous conformation to Christ, the image of the new man, to reach a full communion with God. The Lord Jesus is 'the light of the world,' because in Him 'shines the knowledge of the glory of God' which continues to reveal the meaning of human existence in the complex storyline of history.”
The Pope explained that the presentation of the candle during the Rite of Baptism is a sign that helps one to understand what is happening the sacrament.
“When we let our life be illuminated by the mystery of Christ, we experience the joy of being liberated from all that threatens its full fulfillment,” he said.
“In these days that prepare us for Easter, let us revive in ourselves the gift received in Baptism, that flame that sometimes risks being snuffed out.”
“Let us feed it with prayer and charity towards our neighbor. To the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, we entrust the Lenten path, so that all might find Christ, Savior of the world.”
After the Angelus prayer, the Pope remembered the sixth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. As the faithful prepare themselves for Easter, he said, they also prepare for the late-Pope's May 1 beatification, entrusting themselves ever more to his intercession.