Jesus believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. The Holy Father reminded the faithful of this, this morning as he presided over the closing Mass for the Synod of Bishops on the family, which has taken place in the Vatican, Oct 4-25, on the theme, 'The Mission and Vocation of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World' in St. Peter's Basilica. He had been recalling the Biblical story in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus performs the miracle of restoring, Bartimaeus, a blind begger, back to sight.
Last night, the Holy Father gave a discourse to the Synod Fathers, which earned him a standing ovation in the Vatican's New Synod Hall. In the afternoon, they voted on the 94 paragraphs in the Synod's Relazione Finale, or final report, all of which passed by having met the two-third's majority needed.
In this morning's homily, Pope Francis underscored that the Gospel demonstrates how all of us Christians need to have our priorities straight, i.e. Christ first, and then once this is established, we are to be confident, that as we approach Him, He will bless what we have prayed for.
The Holy Father also warned against two temptations for those who follow Jesus, namely those of a "spirituality of illusion" and "scheduled faith."
Speaking on the first, he noted a danger for us can be that faced with problems, we do not move on, but let ourselves be bothered. In this way, we, just like the disciples, are with Jesus, but not thinking like Him. "We are in His group, but our hearts are not open," he said. "We lose wonder, gratitude and enthusiasm, and risk becoming habitually unmoved by grace. We are able to speak about him and work for him, but we live far from his heart, which is reaching out to those who are wounded."
This is the temptation of a 'spirituality of illusion,' he said, noting it is that in which "we can walk through the deserts of humanity, without seeing what is really there," in which we see what we want to see.
"We are capable of developing views of the world, but we do not accept what the Lord places before our eyes," he said, noting it is "a faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts."
The second temptation, he asserted, is that of falling into a “scheduled faith.”
"We are able to walk with the People of God, but we already have our schedule for the journey, where everything is listed: we know where to go and how long it will take; everyone must respect our rhythm and every problem is a bother. We run the risk of becoming the 'many' of the Gospel who lose patience and rebuke Bartimaeus. Just a short time before, they scolded the children (cf. 10:13), and now the blind beggar: whoever bothers us or is not of our stature is excluded."
Don't be tarnished
Jesus wants to include, above all, "those kept on the fringes who are crying out to him," Pope Francis underscored. "They, like Bartimaeus, have faith, because awareness of the need for salvation is the best way of encountering Jesus."
Francis prayed that all faithful follow the path that the Lord desires, and encouraged them to "ask Him to turn to us with his healing and saving gaze, which knows how to radiate light, as it recalls the splendor which illuminates it.”
“Never allow ourselves to be tarnished by pessimism or sin," Francis urged, encouraging those gathered, to "seek and look upon the glory of God, which shines forth in men and women who are fully alive.”
In his Angelus address at noon, the Holy Father recalled today's reading from Jeremiah and how God led his people through difficult times, leading those thirsty toward water. Francis then used the address to launch an appeal to help these people, promising the solidarity of the Church to all those who have been forced to flee from their homelands to far-off lands and calling for Christians to help.
Yesterday, the Synod Fathers released a declaration appealing that the world help those who have been suffering in the Middle East, Ukraine, and Africa. In it, they express, "Our thoughts and prayers extend, with equal concern, care and love, to all the families that are involved," noting that during the synod they very much kept present their needs," and call on those who can, to help them return to peaceful and dignified lives.
As he usually does, Pope Francis concluded his address, telling the thousands of faithful gathered in the Square to not to forget to pray for him, and saying, 'See you soon' and 'Good lunch.'
On ZENIT's Web page:
Pope's Homily at Closing Mass: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-pope-s-homily-at-closing-mass-of-synod
Pope's Angelus Address: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-pope-s-angelus-address--2
Pope's Discourse Last Night at Synod Closing: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-discourse-at-close-of-synod
Today's Readings: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/readings-for-sunday-oct-25
On the NET:
Final Report with Votes included (currently, only available in Italian): http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2015/10/24/0816/01825.html
Synod's Declaration for Middle East, Ukraine, Africa (in Italian): http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2015/10/24/0814/01824.html