Josemaría Escrivá Obras
  Christ is passing by > Christian respect for persons and their freedom > Number 67

We have just read in this holy Mass a text from St John's Gospel: the scene of the miraculous cure of the man born blind. I imagine that all of us have once again been moved by the power and mercy of God, who cannot look indifferently upon human misfortune. But I should like to fix our attention on other considerations. Specifically, let us try to see that, when there is love of God, a Christian cannot be indifferent to the lot of other men. He must show respect in his dealings with all men. For he knows that when love shrinks, there arises the danger of thoughtlessly, mercilessly invading the conscience of others.

"And Jesus saw," says the holy Gospel, "as he passed on his way, a man who had been blind from his birth." Jesus is passing by. How often have I marvelled at this simple way of describing divine mercy! Jesus is headed somewhere, yet he is not too busy to spot human suffering. Consider, on the other hand, how different was the reaction of his disciples. They ask him: "Master, was this man guilty of sin, or was it his parents, that he should have been born blind?"

We cannot be surprised that many persons, even those who think themselves Christians, act in the same way. Their first impulse is to think badly of someone or something. They don't need any proof ¡ they take it for granted. And they don't keep it to themselves, they air their snap judgments to the winds.

Trying to be benevolent about it, we could call the disciples' behaviour short-sighted. Then as now, for little has changed, there were others, the Pharisees, who consistently adopted this attitude. Remember how Jesus Christ denounced them? "When John came, he would neither eat nor drink, and they say of him that he is possessed. When the Son of Man came, he ate and drank with them, and of him they said, Here is a glutton; he loves wine; he is a friend of publicans and sinners."

Jesus suffered a campaign of slurs on his name, defamation of his irreproachable conduct, biting and wounding criticism. It is not unusual for some people to accord the same treatment to those who wish to follow the Master while fully conscious of their natural shortcomings and personal mistakes which, given human weakness, are so common and even inevitable. But our experience of human limitations cannot lead us to condone sins and injustices against the good name of anyone, even though their authors try to cover their tracks by just "wondering" aloud. Jesus says that if the father of the family has been labelled Beelzebub, members of the household cannot expect to fare any better. But he also adds that "whoever calls his brother a fool shall be in danger of hell fire."

Where does this unjust, carping attitude come from? It almost seems as though some people are now wearing glasses that disfigure their vision. In principle, they reject the possibility of a virtuous life or, at least, the constant effort to do the right thing. Everything they take in is coloured by their own previous deformation. For them, even the most noble and unselfish actions are only hypocritical contortions designed to appear good. "When they clearly discover goodness," writes St Gregory the Great, "they scrutinise it in the hope of finding hidden defects."

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