Vatican City, Feb 19, 2022 / 07:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis met Saturday with a Christian movement of blind and visually impaired people, who are on a pilgrimage in Rome.
“Your pilgrimage is a sign of the full participation of the faithful with disabilities in the communion of the Church,” Pope Francis told the group in their meeting on Feb. 19.
The French association, Voir Ensemble (See Together), was founded in 1927 by Father Yves Mollat, a blind Jesuit priest.
Today the movement has grown to have 3,000 members across France and advocates for the inclusion of those with visual disabilities in society.
The pope commended the group for bringing together blind and visually impaired people who “want to walk together to live the joy of the Gospel in fellowship.”
“Today, unfortunately, we are used to perceiving only the outside of things, the most superficial aspect. Our culture says that people are worthy of interest based on their physical appearance, their clothes, their beautiful homes, their luxury cars, their social position, their wealth,” Pope Francis said.
“As the Gospel teaches us, even today the sick or disabled person, starting from his fragility, from his limitation, can be at the heart of an encounter: the encounter with Jesus, who opens to life and faith, and who can to build fraternal and supportive relationships in the Church and in society,” he said.
Pope Francis gave a reflection on the Gospel of John’s account of Jesus’ encounter with a man born blind at the Pool of Siloam.
“The paradox is this: that blind man, meeting the One who is the Light of the world, becomes able to see, while those who see, though meeting Jesus, remain blind,” the pope said.
“This paradox very often runs through our own lives and our ways of believing.”
“The heart of Jesus cannot remain indifferent to suffering. He invites us to act immediately, to console, soothe and heal the wounds of our brothers,” he said.
In his speech, the pope quoted the French novella, “The Little Prince,” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“Seeing with the heart is seeing the world and our brothers through God’s gaze,” Pope Francis added.
“Jesus invites us to renew our way of seeing people and things. It offers us an ever new vision of our relationships with others, especially in the family, of our human frailty, of illness and death.”
Pope Francis entrusted the members of the association for the blind to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and offered his blessing.
“Let Jesus come to meet you, heal your wounds and teach you to see with the heart. Only He truly knows the heart of man, only He can free it from closure and rigidity and open it to life and hope,” he said.