"His blindness led him to poverty and to living on the outskirts of the city, dependent on others for everything he needed," the pontiff said, explaining that sin has the same effect: "it impoverishes and isolates us."
The blindness of sin leads us little by little to concentrate on what is superficial and to be indifferent to others, he said, noting that there are many temptations which have the power "to cloud the heart's vision and to make it myopic!"
The Pope admitted that it is easy to be misguided, but cautioned that when we give into the temptation of only looking at ourselves, "we become blind, lifeless and self-centered, devoid of joy and true freedom."
Jesus, however, passes by us and stops to listen in the same way that he did in the Gospel, the Pope said, explaining that like Bartimaeus, "our hearts race, because we realize that the Light is gazing upon us...which invites us to come out of our dark blindness."
The closeness of Jesus makes us realize that something is missing when we are far away from him, Pope Francis said, adding that it is the presence of God which makes us feel the need for salvation and which "begins the healing of our heart."
However, Francis lamented that there are always people like those in the Gospel who don't want to stop when they see someone else suffering. These people, he said, prefer "to silence and rebuke the person in need who is only a nuisance."
Francis said that by brushing these people off, we not only keep ourselves far from the Lord, but others as well. He prayed that everyone would realize that "we are all begging for God's love, and not allow ourselves to miss the Lord as he passes by."
The Pope then turned to role of pastors in the confessional, saying they are called in a special way "to hear the cry, perhaps hidden, of all those who wish to encounter the Lord."
He encouraged them to re-examine behaviors that can get in the way of helping others draw close to Jesus, and to ask themselves if they are putting schedules, programs and regulations ahead of the desire for forgiveness.
Touching on the topic of God's tenderness, the Pope said pastors must "certainly not water down the demands of the Gospel," but at the same time they can't risk "frustrating the desire of the sinner to be reconciled with the Father," he said.
"We have been sent to inspire courage, to support and to lead others to Jesus," he said, adding that their ministry "is one of accompaniment, so that the encounter with the Lord may be personal and intimate" and without fear.
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Pope Francis concluded by noting how at the end of the Gospel, Bartimaeus immediately received his sight after speaking with Jesus, and then followed him.
When we draw near to Jesus like Bartimaeus did, "we too see once more the light which enables us to look to the future with confidence," and which gives us the strength and courage to move forward, he said.
Francis encouraged attendees to follow Jesus "as faithful disciples," so that they help everyone they meet to have the same experience of joy in receiving God's his merciful love.
After "the embrace of the Father, the forgiveness of the Father," in confession, the Pope told attendees to "celebrate in our hearts, because he is celebrating."