Hostility, indifference make us blind to those in need, pope says

Pope Francis reacts as someone in the crowd holds onto his hand during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 15. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis reacts as someone in the crowd holds onto his hand during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 15. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Indifference and hostility can blind Christians from recognizing Jesus in those most in need, Pope Francis said.

“This indifference and hostility can turn into aggression” toward people often marginalized by society, the pope said June 15 during his weekly general audience.

“How many times, when we see so many people on the street — people in need, the sick, those with nothing to eat — we feel bothered. How many times, when we find before us so many refugees and displaced people, we feel bothered. It is a temptation; we all have this, everyone, including myself,” he said.

The pope reflected on the Gospel reading of a blind beggar in Jericho whose sight was restored after pleading with Jesus to heal him.

“The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me!'” the Gospel reading says.

Those who told the beggar to be quiet, the pope recalled, reproached him “as if he did not have a right to cry out.” However, despite his blindness, the poor man “sees with the eyes of faith” and his plea was powerful enough to attract Jesus’ attention.

“Let us also think this, when we found ourselves in awful situations, even sinful situations, how it was Jesus who took our hand and took us out from the margins to the path of salvation,” the pope said.

The Gospel reading, he added, teaches Christians that the good news implies placing those excluded at the center and that Jesus’ merciful presence is an opportunity for “those in need of help and consolation” to cry out to him.

“Even in our lives, Jesus passes by. When I notice Jesus passing by, it is an invitation to come close to him, to be a better person, to be a better Christian, to follow Jesus,” he said.

Christians are called to follow the path of the blind man who “glorified God” and followed Jesus after being healed, the pope said.

“We are all beggars; we are always in need of salvation. And all of us, every day, need to make this step: from beggars to disciples,” he said. “Let us allow ourselves to be called by Jesus, healed by Jesus, forgiven by Jesus and follow him, praising God.”

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