On Bartimaeus' Encounter With Christ
"Faith Is a Path of Illumination"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today from the window of his study, to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square to recite the midday Angelus.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We read in this Sunday's Gospel (Mark 10:46-52) that, while the Lord passes through the streets of Jericho, a blind man named Bartimaeus addresses him, crying out loudly: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" This entreaty moves Christ's heart, who pauses, has him called and cures him.
The decisive moment was the personal, direct encounter between the Lord and that man who was suffering. They are before one another: God with his will to cure and the man with his desire to be cured. Two liberties, two converging wills: "What do you want me to do for you?" the Lord asks him. "Let me receive my sight," replies the blind man. "Go your way; you faith has made you well."
With these words, the miracle is realized. God's joy, man's joy. And Bartimaeus, who had recovered his sight -- recounts the Gospel -- "followed him on the way": That is, he becomes his disciple and goes up with the Master to Jerusalem to take part with him in the great mystery of salvation. In the essential of its passages, this account evokes the itinerary of the catechumen toward the sacrament of baptism, which in the early Church was also called "lllumination."
Faith is a path of illumination; it starts from the humility of acknowledging one's need of salvation and arrives at the personal encounter with Christ, who calls [one] to follow him on the way of love. On this model the itineraries of Christian initiation have been established in the Church, which prepare for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.
In places of past evangelization -- where the baptism of children is widespread -- catechetical and spiritual experiences are proposed to young people and adults which enable them to undertake a path of rediscovery of the faith in a mature and conscious way, in order to assume later a coherent commitment to witness. How important is the work that pastors and catechists carry out in this field!
The rediscovery of the value of one's baptism is the basis of the missionary commitment of every Christian, because we see in the Gospel that he who lets himself be fascinated by Christ cannot do without witnessing the joy of following in his footsteps. In this month of October, especially dedicated to the mission, we understand even more that, in virtue of baptism, we have an inherent missionary vocation.
We invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary so that missionaries of the Gospel will multiply. Intimately united to the Lord, may every baptized person hear that he is called to proclaim the love of God to all, with the testimony of his own life.
[At the end of the Angelus the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Sunday "Angelus." In today's Gospel Jesus gives sight to Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, whose eyes opened and whose heart was filled with joy, after he asked our Lord for assistance. As we strive to follow closely the teachings of Jesus, may our faith guide our steps and give joy to our hearts! I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!
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