Pope Francis asked if Catholics drive people away from Jesus in a homily that focused on the Gospel account of Bartimaeus, the blind man who cried out to Jesus to be healed, and whom the disciples called to be silent. The Gospel led the Holy Father to reflect on three different groups of Christians.
First, there are Christians who are concerned only with their own relationship with Jesus, a “closed, selfish” relationship, who do not hear the cries of others:
“This group of people, even today, do not hear the cry of so many people who need Jesus. A group of people who are indifferent: they do not hear, they think that life is their own little group; they are content; they are deaf to the clamour of so many people who need salvation, who need the help of Jesus, who need the Church. These people are selfish, they live for themselves alone. They are unable to hear the voice of Jesus.”
Silencing the cries for Jesus
Then, the Pope continued, “there are those who hear this cry for help, but want to silence it,” like the disciples when they sent away the children, “so that they would not disturb the Master”: “He was their Master — He was for them, not for everyone. These people send away from Jesus those who cry out, who need the faith, who need salvation.” In this group one finds the “men of affairs, who are close to Jesus,” who are in the temple. They seem “religious,” but “Jesus chased them away because they were doing business there, in the house of God.” There are those who “do not want to hear the cry for help, but prefer to take care of their business, and use the people of God, use the Church for their own affairs.” In this group there are Christians “who do not bear witness”:
“They are Christians in name, parlour room Christians, Christians at receptions, but their interior life is not Christian, it is worldly. Someone who calls himself Christian and lives like a worlding drives away those who cry out for help from Jesus. And then there are the rigorists, those whom Jesus rebukes, those who place such heavy weights on the backs of the people. Jesus devotes the whole of the twenty-third chapter of St Matthew to them: ‘Hypocrites,’ he says to them, ‘you exploit the people!’ And instead of responding to the cries of the people who cry out for salvation, they send them away.”
There is, finally, a third group of Christians, “those who help [people]draw near to Jesus”:
“There is the group of Christians who are consistent in what they believe and in how they live, and they help to draw near to Jesus, to the people who are crying out, seeking salvation, seeking grace, seeking spiritual health for their souls.”
“It would be good for us to make an examination of conscience,” the Pope concluded, in order to understand whether we are Christians who drive people away from Jesus, or who draw people to Him because we hear the cry of the many people who are seeking help for their own salvation.
Courtesy: Christopher Wells, Vatican Radio; Pic: Ossorvatore Romano