The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we begin a new series of catecheses on the theme of prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith, it is its most proper expression, as a cry that issues from the heart of one who believes and entrusts himself to God. We think of the story of Bartimaeus, a personage of the Gospel (Cf. Mark 10:46-52 and par.) and I confess to you, for me the most likable of all. He was blind, sitting by the roadside begging on the outskirts of his city, Jericho. He isn’t an anonymous personality; he has a face <and> a name: Bartimaeus, namely, “son of Timaeus.” One day he hears it said that Jesus would be passing by there. In fact, Jericho was a crossroads of people, constantly traversed by pilgrims and merchants. Therefore, Bartimaeus lies in wait: he did everything possible to meet Jesus. So many people did the same thing: we recall Zacchaeus, who climbed up on the tree. So many wanted to see Jesus, he did too.
Thus, this man enters in the Gospels as a voice that shouts loudly. He cannot see; he doesn’t know if Jesus is close or far, but he understands from the crowd that increases at a certain point and he approaches . . . However, he is completely alone and no one is concerned about him. And what does Bartimaeus do?
He shouts, and shouts and continues to shout. He uses the only weapon in his possession: his voice. He begins to cry out: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 47). And he continues thus, shouting. His repeated shouts annoy, don’t seem polite, and many rebuke him and tell him to be quiet. “But be polite, don’t do that!” However, Bartimameus doesn’t keep quiet, instead, he shouts even louder” “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 47).” <It is> that very good stubbornness of those that seek a grace and knock, knock on the door of God’s heart. He shouts, knocks. That expression,” Son of David,” is very important, it means “the Messiah,” — he confesses the Messiah –, it’s a profession of faith that issues from the mouth of that man, scorned by all. And Jesus listens to his cry. Bartimaeus’ prayer touches His heart, God’s heart, and the doors of salvation open for him. Jesus had him called. He springs to his feet and those that before told him to be quiet now lead him to the Master. Jesus speaks to him, He asks him to express his desire — this is important — and then the cry becomes a request: “Let me receive my sight, Lord!” (Cf. v. 51). Jesus says to him: “Go your way; your faith has made you well” (v. 52). He acknowledges in that poor, helpless, scorned man all the power of his faith, which attracts God’s mercy and power. Faith is to have two hands raised, a voice that cries to implore the gift of salvation. The Catechism affirms that “humility is the foundation of prayer” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, 2559).
Prayer is born of the earth, of the humus, from which “humble” derives –“humility” –; it comes from our precarious state, from our continuous thirst for God (Cf. Ibid., 2560-2561).
Faith, we saw in Bartimaeus, is a cry; non-faith is to suffocate that cry, that attitude that the people had, in silencing him. They weren’t people of faith, instead, he was. To suffocate that cry is a sort of “omerta” [“code of silence”]. Faith is protest against a painful condition whose motive we don’t understand; non-faith is to limit oneself to endure a situation to which we are adapted. Faith is hope of being saved; non-faith is to get used to the evil that oppresses us, and to continue thus.
Dear brothers and sisters, we begin this series of catecheses with Bartimaeus’ cry because perhaps, in a figure such as his, everything is already written. Bartimaeus is a persevering man. There were people around him that explained that to implore was useless, that it was unanswered shouting, that he was noisy, that he was just disturbing, that he please stop shouting. However, he did not remain silent and, in the end, he got what he wanted.
There is a voice in man’s heart that invokes, louder than any contrary argumentation. We all have this voice within, A voice that issues spontaneously, without anyone ordering it, a voice that questions the meaning of our journey down here, especially when we find ourselves in darkness. “Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!” This is a beautiful prayer. But are these words, perhaps, not sculpted in the whole of creation? Everything invokes and implores that the mystery of mercy find its definitive fulfilment. Christian are not the only ones that pray: they share the cry of prayer with all men and women. However, the horizon can be widened still more: Paul affirms that the whole of creation “groans in travail” (Romans 8:22). Artists often make themselves interpreters of this silent cry of creation, which weighs on every creature and emerges especially in man’s heart, because man is a “beggar before God” (Cf. CCC, 2559). A Beautiful description of man: “beggar before God.” Thank you.
The full text of the Holy Father’s Catechesis can be sourced here.