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Pope Francis warns against falling into ‘scheduled faith’ at closing Mass for synod

Pope Francis at St Peter's Basilica on Sunday (CNS)

At a Mass to conclude the synod on the family, Pope Francis warned against falling into a “scheduled faith” and “ignoring what the Lord places before our eyes.”

He also thanked synod participants for “walking together” and urged them to “follow the path that the Lord desires”.

Thousands gathered in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday for the closing Mass which concluded three weeks of intense discussion and debate on pastoral responses to the challenges facing families in the modern world.

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, which recalled Jesus’s healing of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar from Jericho, Pope Francis said Christ was not content with giving the poor man alms, but preferred to “personally encounter him.”

Pope Francis warned that the Gospel shows two temptations that face those who follow Jesus when confronted with people who are suffering.

The first is the temptation of falling into a “spirituality of illusion,” shown in the indifference of those who ignored Bartimaeus’s cry, “going on as if nothing were happening.”

“If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf: his problem was not their problem,” the Pope said. “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.”

This “spirituality of illusion,” he said, makes one capable of developing world views without accepting “what the Lord places before our eyes.”

“There is a second temptation, that of falling into a ‘scheduled faith’,” he added.

“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.”

Jesus asking the beggar what he wanted may seem like a senseless question, the Pope said, but it shows that Jesus “wants to hear our needs” and “talk with each of us about our lives, our real situations.”

When Jesus’ disciples address Bartimaeus, they use two expressions: “take heart” and “rise,” the Pope said.

“His disciples do nothing other than repeat Jesus’ encouraging and liberating words, leading him directly to Jesus, without lecturing him,” he said. “Jesus disciples are called to this, even today, especially today: to bring people into contact with the compassionate mercy that saves.”

In moments of suffering and conflict, he said, the only response is to make Jesus’ words “our own” and most importantly, to “imitate his heart.” Today, the Pope said, “is a time of mercy.”

Pope Francis thanked the synod participants for “walking together” and called on them to “follow the path that the Lord desires”.

“Dear Synod Fathers, we have walked together. Thank you for the path we have shared with our eyes fixed on Jesus and our brothers and sisters, in the search for the paths which the Gospel indicates for our times so that we can proclaim the mystery of family love,” the Pope said.

“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.”