.- On Sunday Pope Francis said Lent is a key time to open ourselves to the light of Christ and let go of all the “false lights” that lead us away from him, taking us instead down a path of darkness marked by our own selfishness.
“If now I were to ask you, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that he can change your heart? Do you think you can see reality as he sees it, not as we do? Do you believe that he is light, that he gives us the true light?” the Pope asked March 26, telling pilgrims to respond in silence.
The walk in the light of Christ means to convert, he said, explaining that this transformation means above all “abandoning false lights.”
One of these false lights, he said, is the “cold and fatuous light of prejudice against others, because prejudice distorts reality and builds hate against those who we judge without mercy and condemn without an appeal.”
Gossip is an example of this, he said, noting that to speak badly of others leads away from light, and down the path of darkness.
Another false light that is particularly “seductive and ambiguous,” he said, “is personal interest.”
“If we evaluate men and things based on the criteria of our profit, our pleasure, our prestige, we will not live the truth in relationships and in situations,” the Pope said. “If we go down this path of seeking only personal interests, we will walk in darkness.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address, focusing on the day’s Gospel reading from John which recounts the healing of man blind from birth who, after receiving his sight, recognizes and worships Jesus as the Son of God.
“With this miracle Jesus manifests himself as the light of the world,” Francis said, explaining that the blind man represents each of us, who, blinded by sin, “need a new light, that of the faith, which Jesus has given us.”
Referring to the Gospel passage, Francis noted that it was precisely by “opening to the mystery of Christ” that the man gained his sight.
Francis pointed to the line in the passage where Jesus asks the man “do you believe in the Son of Man?” and tells him that “you have seen him, it is he who is speaking with you.”
The man then prostrated himself and worshipped Jesus, the Pope observed, saying the episode serves as an invitation to reflect on our own faith in Christ, and to remember the moment we received it in our Baptism.
Baptism “is the first sacrament of the faith: the sacrament which make us ‘come to the light,’ through rebirth in water and in the Holy Spirit,” he said, noting how the blind man’s eyes were opened after bathing in the Pool of Siloam, upon Jesus’ request.
The man’s need for healing and rebirth is a sign of the times when we fail to recognize “that Jesus is the light of the world, when we look elsewhere, when we prefer to rely on small lights, when we fumble in the darkness.”
The fact that that blind man didn’t have a name, Pope Francis said, “helps us to see ourselves with our face and our name in his story.”
We have also been “illuminated” by Christ through our Baptism, he said, explaining that because of this, we, like the blind man, “are called to act like sons of light.”
But to do this “requires a radical change of mentality, a capacity to judge men and things according to a new scale of values, which comes from God,” the Pope said, adding that Baptism itself requires “a firm and decisive choice” to let go of the false lights, and live as children of the true light of Christ.
Francis concluded his address by praying that Mary, welcomed Jesus as the “light of the world,” would intercede for us in obtaining the grace needed to really welcome “the light of faith” into our lives during Lent.
“May this new illumination transform us in attitude and action, so that also we, starting from our poverty, may be bearers of a ray of the light of Christ.”
After leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis offered special thanks to the diocese of Milan for his March 25 pastoral visit.
He also gave a shout-out to Blessed José álvarez-Benavides y de la Torre and his 114 martyr companions, who were beatified yesterday in Spain.
“These priests, religious and laity were heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of fraternal peace and reconciliation,” he said, and prayed that their example and intercession would “sustain the commitment of the Church in building the civilization of love.”