There is something strangely moving about the fact this morning during Mass for the Closing of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, Pope Francis reflected in his homily on the same Gospel assigned for us to read and reflect upon in our worship today.

The Pope went in a slightly different direction than I did in his reflections on blind Bartiamaeus. And I doubt he was interrupted mid-sermon by his two-year-old granddaughter walking up the centre aisle and asking in a loud voice, “Can I come to your house?” But Pope Francis and I were not all that far apart in our reflections on Mark 10:46-52.

Here are a few of the Pope’s comments on this story:

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There are… some temptations for those who follow Jesus.  The Gospel shows at least two of them.

None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did.  They continued to walk, going on as if nothing were happening.  If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf: his problem was not their problem.

This can be a danger for us: in the face of constant problems, it is better to move on, instead of letting ourselves be bothered.  In this way, just like the disciples, we are with Jesus but we do not think like him.  We are in his group, but our hearts are not open.  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: a “spirituality of illusion”: we can walk through the deserts of humanity without seeing what is really there; instead, 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.  A faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts.

There is a second temptation, 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.

Jesus, on the other hand, wants to include, above all those kept on the fringes who are crying out to him.  They, like Bartimaeus, have faith, because awareness of the need for salvation is the best way of encountering Jesus.

In the end, Bartimaeus follows Jesus on his path (cf. v. 52).  He did not only regain his sight, but he joined the community of those who walk with Jesus.

… Let us follow the path that the Lord desires. Let us ask him to turn to us with his healing and saving gaze, which knows how to radiate light, as it recalls the splendour which illuminates it.  Never allowing ourselves to be tarnished by pessimism or sin, let us seek and look upon the glory of God, which shines forth in men and women who are fully alive.

http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/francis-closes-synod-warning-against-spirituality-ignores-people-s-struggles

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all being well, you should be able to listen to my blind Bartimaeus reflections here: http://stphilipvictoria.ca/resources/multimedia/

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