(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday met with members of the Movimento Apostolico Ciechi (Apostolic Movement for the Blind) and the Piccola Missione per i Sordomuti (Little Mission for the Deaf), who were holding a joint “Days of Sharing” in Rome.
The two Catholic organizations were reflecting on the theme “Witnesses of the Gospel for a culture of encounter.” Pope Francis told them the word “encounter” in their theme presupposes another encounter, the one with Christ.
“In effect, to be witnesses of the Gospel, we must have met Him, Jesus,” Pope Francis said. “One who really knows him, becomes his witness. Like the Samaritan woman – as we read last Sunday – This woman met Jesus, spoke to Him, and her life changed. She returned to her people and said ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Messiah?’”
Pope Francis said the Samaritan woman is the kind of person Jesus loved to meet and make disciples: the marginalized, the excluded, the despised.
“But we think of the many people Jesus wanted to meet, overall those people marked by illness and disability, to heal and restore them to full dignity,” he said.
The Holy Father said it was important for these people to become witnesses to a “new attitude”, which may be called a culture of encounter.
He compared this culture with a culture of exclusion and prejudice typified by the Pharisees who called Jesus and those he healed “sinners”, and believed disability to be God’s will.
“The sick or disabled person, properly starting from his fragility, from his limitations, can become a witness to encounter: The encounter with Jesus, which opens to life and faith; and the encounter with the other, with the community. In fact, only those who recognize their own fragility and their own limitations can build fraternal relations and solidarity, in the Church and in society.”
Text from Vatican Radio website