By Linda Bordoni
Taking inspiration from the Gospel episode of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar from Jericho who is able to see again after making a profession of faith in Jesus, Pope Francis invited Christians to reach out to God with prayer and to persevere in their journey of faith.
Addressing the faithful from the Library of the Apostolic Palace during his live-streamed weekly General Audience, the Pope reflected on the reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mk 10:47) and described prayer as “the breath of faith, a cry arising from the hearts of those who trust in God.”
He said that although he is blind, Bartimaeus is aware that Jesus is approaching and perseveres in calling out, “screaming at the top of his lungs: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The Pope explained that by using the only weapon at his disposal, his voice, and ignoring the many who reproach him telling him to be quiet, he cries out “Son of David”, making a profession of faith in Jesus the Messiah.
The blind beggar’s prayer touches God’s heart, the Pope said, and Bartimaeus is able to see again meaning that “the gates of salvation are opened for him.”
Faith is a cry for salvation
“This indicates that faith is a cry for salvation attracting God’s mercy and power,” Pope Francis said, pointing out that it is not only Christians who pray but all men and women who search for meaning on their earthly journey.
As we continue on our pilgrimage of faith, he continued, may we “always persevere in prayer, especially in our darkest moments, and ask the Lord with confidence: “Jesus have mercy on me. Jesus, have mercy on us!”.
“Faith is having two raised hands, a voice that cries out to implore the gift of salvation,” the Pope said, noting that the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “humility is the foundation of prayer”. And he explained that prayer “finds its origin in the earth, from the humus – from which the word “humble”, “humility” derives: It comes from our precarious state, from our continual thirst for God.”
“Faith is a cry,” he added, and exhorted us never to suffocate that cry.
“Faith is a protest against a painful condition for which we do not understand the reason,” he continued, saying “To disbelieve is limiting oneself to endure a situation that we have adapted ourselves to,” becoming accustomed to the evil that oppresses us, while “Faith is the hope of being saved.”
Prayer is stronger than any argument to the contrary
Returning to the theme of prayer, Pope Francis said: “There is a voice in the depths of mankind that prays which is stronger than any argument to the contrary.”
He described it “as a voice that flows forth spontaneously without anyone commanding it; a voice that questions the meaning of our journey here below, above all when we find ourselves in darkness” and we cry out “Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on all of us!”
It’s not only Christians who pray
Pope Francis concluded his catechesis noting that these are words "inscribed on all of creation."
“Everything prays and begs so that the mystery of mercy might find its ultimate fulfillment,” he said, reiterating that “it is not only Christians who pray” because every single man and woman share the desire for salvation: “Man is a beggar before God”.