Pope to missionaries: thank you for your witness at a high price

At the Angelus on World Mission Sunday, the Pope speaks of priests, religious and lay people on the front line of proclamation "in lands that still do not know Jesus". Appeal for migrants in Libya: put an end to the camps. Blind Bartimaeus is a model of prayer to God who can do all things.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - On the Sunday on which the Church celebrates World Mission Sunday, during the Angelus in St Peter's Square Pope Francis addressed his thanks to those who spend their lives bearing witness to the Gospel.

With gratitude," he said at the end of the Marian prayer, "I address my greeting to the many missionaries - priests, religious men and women and lay faithful - who spend their energies in the front line in the service of the Church, paying personally - sometimes at a high price - for their witness. They do this," he added, "not to proselytise, but to bear witness to the Gospel in their lives in lands that do not know Jesus. Many thanks to the missionaries".

The Sunday appointment with the faithful was also an opportunity to launch a new appeal for the "thousands of migrants, refugees and others in need of protection in Libya: I never forget you," Francis told them, "I hear your cries and I pray for you. The pope urged the international community to "keep its promises to seek common, concrete and durable solutions". "There are real lagers there," he added, "We must put an end to the return of migrants to unsafe countries and give priority to rescuing lives at sea with predictable rescue and disembarkation devices, guaranteeing them decent living conditions, alternatives to detention, regular migration routes and access to asylum procedures.

Before the Angelus, Pope Francis had commented on the Gospel passage in which Jesus restores sight to Bartimaeus, proposed by today's liturgy (Mk 10:46-52). God," he said, "always listens to the cry of the poor, and he is not at all disturbed by Bartimaeus' voice; on the contrary, he notices that it is full of faith, a faith that is not afraid to insist, to knock on God's heart, despite incomprehension and reproaches. And here lies the root of the miracle".

The prayer of Bartimaeus - said Francis - "is not a shy and conventional prayer. He is not afraid of Him, he does not distance himself. And so, from the heart, he cries out to the friendly God all his drama: have mercy on me!". The blind man - the Pope went on to observe - "does not ask for a grace" but "mercy for his person, for his life". He says "the essential and entrusts himself to the love of God, who can make his life flourish again" because "blindness was the tip of the iceberg, but in his heart there must have been wounds, humiliations, broken dreams, mistakes, remorse".

Starting from here, Pope Francis invited people to ask themselves: "How is my prayer? Is it courageous, does it have the good insistence of Bartimaeus, does it know how to 'catch' the Lord as he passes by, or is it content to give him a formal greeting every now and then, when I remember? And then: is my prayer 'substantial', does it lay the heart bare before the Lord? Do I bring Him the story and the faces of my life? Or is it anaemic, superficial, made up of rituals without affection or heart? When faith is alive, prayer is heartfelt: it does not beg for pennies, it is not reduced to the needs of the moment".

Jesus, who can do everything," he added, "must be asked for everything. He cannot wait to pour his grace and joy into our hearts, but unfortunately it is we who keep our distance".

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