Tens of thousands of pilgrims packed St. Peter's Square on Sunday morning for Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus message. The Pope called on the faithful to admit that their sins have blinded them and to follow the example of the man born blind who turned to Jesus for healing.
In Sunday's reflection, the Holy Father recalled that Jesus came into the world to work for justice and to separate those whose blindness is curable from those whose blindness cannot be cured because they presume themselves to be healthy.
Pope Benedict said that the Lenten liturgy and the texts in the Gospel of John take us through a “baptismal journey.”
"Last Sunday, Jesus promised the woman the gift of "living water"; today, healing the man born blind reveals how Jesus is the ‘light of the world’; and next Sunday, the raising of his friend Lazarus appears as ‘the resurrection and the life.’
"Water, light and life are symbols of baptism, the sacrament that 'plunges' believers in the mystery of death and resurrection of Christ, freeing them from the slavery of sin and giving them eternal life."
The Pope recounted Sunday's Gospel reading, John 9:1-18, the story of the healing of the man blind from birth. The Pope explained that the disciples followed the mentality of the time, which took for granted that a man's blindness resulted from his own or his parents' sins. But Jesus rejected this assumption and said, "neither he nor his parent sinned, it is so that the works of God might be made manifest through him."
Pope Benedict said that Jesus' gestures in healing the blind man, such as making clay with His spit, allude to creation, when God's breath enlivens the earth.
"'Adam' means 'soil,' and the human body is actually composed of elements of the earth. In healing the man, Jesus makes him a new creation," he said.
"But that healing stirs debate, because Jesus did this on the Sabbath, transgressing the law according to the Pharisees. Thus at the end of the story, Jesus and the blind man find themselves both ‘driven out’ by the Pharisees: one because he has violated the law and the other because, despite his recovery remains branded as a sinner from birth."
In the same way, Pope Benedict said, we are tempted to close ourselves off by building “security systems.”
"Strong indeed is the constant temptation to build an ideological security system: even one's religion can become part of this system, as well as atheism or secularism, but in so doing one is blinded by selfishness. Dear brothers and sisters, let us allow ourselves be healed by Jesus, who can and wants to give us the light of God! We confess our blindness, our myopic view, and especially what the Bible calls the ‘great sin’ (cf. Ps 18:14): pride."
The Angelus followed upon yesterday's rosary vigil in Pope Paul VI Hall, where ten thousand students from Rome universities joined the Holy Father in praying the Rosary.
University Students in the United States, Ecuador, and Cuba, Mexico, Romania and Belarus joined the recitation of the Rosary via satellite links, praying together on the theme "Europe and the Americas: together to build a civilization of love."