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Pope Francis Prayer 06.05.20 General Audience



Pope Francis - The Mystery of Prayer 06.05.20



Pope Francis     06.05.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis: 1. The Mystery of Prayer      Mark 10: 46-52

Pope Francis  Prayer 06.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we begin a new series of catechesis on the theme of prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith, it is its most proper expression. Like a cry that comes out of the heart of those who believe and trust in God. 

Let's think of the story of Bartimaeus, a character from the Gospel ( Mark 10: 46-52 ) and, I confess, for me the most friendly of all. He was blind, sitting begging on the side of the road on the outskirts of his city, Jericho. He is not an anonymous character, he has a face, a name: Bartimaeus, which means, "son of Timaeus". One day he hears that Jesus would pass by. In fact, Jericho was a crossroads for people, continually passed through by pilgrims and merchants. So Bartimaeus was on the look out: he would do everything possible to meet Jesus. Many people did the same: we remember Zacchaeus, who climbed the tree. Many wanted to see Jesus, even him.

So this man enters the Gospels like a voice screaming out loud. He does not see; he does not know whether Jesus is near or far, but he feels it, he understands it from the crowd, which at some point increased and drew nearer. But he's completely alone, and no one cares. And what does Bartimaeus do? Cries out. And he calls out, and he keeps screaming. Using the only weapon in his possession: his voice. He begins to cry out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" (10: 47). And so he goes on, crying out.
His repeated outcry is annoying, and does not seem polite, and many reproach him, telling him to be silent: "But be polite, don't do that!". But Bartimaeus is not silent, indeed, he cries even louder: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" (10: 47). That so beautiful. The stubbornness of those who seek grace and knock, knock at the door of God's heart. He cries out, he knocks. That expression: "Son of David", is very important; it means "the Messiah". It is a profession of faith that comes out of the mouth of that man despised by everyone.
 
And Jesus hears his cry. Bartimaeus' prayer touches his heart, the heart of God, and the doors of salvation open for him. Jesus has him called. He sprang to his feet and those who used to tell him to remain silent, now lead him to the Master. Jesus speaks to him, asks him to express what he desires– this is important – and then the cry becomes a request: "May I see again, Lord!" (10: 51). 

Jesus tells him, "Go, your faith has saved you"(10: 52). He recognizes in this poor, helpless, despised man, the power of his faith in its entirety, which attracts God's mercy and power. 

Faith is having two hands raised, a voice crying out to implore the gift of salvation. The Catechism states that "humility is the foundation of prayer"(Catechism of the Catholic Church,2559). Prayer comes from the earth, from the humus – from which comes "humble", "humility". It comes from our precarious state, from our constant thirst for God (cf. ibid.,2560-2561).

Faith, we have seen in Bartimaeus , is a cry; disbelief stifles that cry. That was the attitude of the people, who were trying to keep him quiet: they were not people of faith, he was. Smothering that cry is a kind of "omertà" (code of silence). Faith is a protest against a painful condition for which we do not understand the reason; to disbelieve is to just suffer a situation that we have adapted to. Faith is the hope of being saved; disbelief is to get used to the evil that oppresses us and to continue like that.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us begin this series of catechesis with the cry of Bartimaeus, so that perhaps in a figure like his everything is already written. Bartimaeus is a persevering man. Around him there were people who explained that crying out was useless, that it would be an unanswered voice, that it was noisy and just disturbed, that would he please stop crying out: but he did not remain silent. And in the end he obtained what he desired. 

Stronger than any argument to the contrary, in the heart of man there is a voice that prays. We all have this voice inside. A voice that comes out spontaneously, without anyone commanding it, a voice that questions the meaning of our journey here below, especially when we are in darkness: "Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!" This is a beautiful prayer. 

But perhaps, these words, are they not inscribed on all of creation? Everything prays and pleads for the mystery of mercy to find its ultimate fulfilment. It is not only Christians who pray: they share the cry of prayer with all men and women. But the horizon can still be broadened: Paul says that all of creation "groans and suffers the pains of childbirth" (Rm 8:22). Artists often become interpreters of this silent cry of creation, which presses into every creature and emerges above all in the heart of man, because man is a "beggar before God" (cf. CCC,2559). It's a beautiful definition of man: "beggars before God." Thank you.