Friday, October 23, 2009

The Jesus Prayer - Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reflections on the Readings

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 25, 2009

Twenth-first Sunday after Pentecost - Year B

By Dennis Hankins

Readings for this Sunday

...He began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

The Jesus prayer, is an ancient prayer.  It goes like this: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Its exact date and circumstances of origin are unknown.  Blind Bartimaeus' cry for mercy is a possible foundation for the prayer as is the tax collector's plea for mercy found in Luke 18:13.  It is associated with the Eastern Orthodox Church among whom it was used to develop an interior calm and silence as the heart focuses on God.  

Repeated as a chant or mantra it became a means of the practice of prayer without ceasing.  Those familiar with the book The Way of the Pilgrim will recall it was the pilgrim's aspiration to find a way to pray without ceasing, to be in complete contemplation of God.  The Jesus Prayer was what he discovered to be the way to pray without ceasing.

It is a blind man today who leads us to a greater vision of prayer to and contemplation of Jesus.  The prayer he makes rises above the noise of the crowd.  Rebuked by those near by and commanded to be silent, he cries out all the more. I like that, he cries out all the more, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. (James 5:16)

Born in the house and of the lineage of David according to the flesh, Jesus is embraced by the son of Timaeus, blind though he was, he recognizes Jesus for who he was, like David, a man after God's own heart of mercy.  In the Incarnation, Jesus is not only Son of God but Son of David.  The words coming from Bartimaeus' lips were saturated with more than nostalgia, his words were the expression of faith, that God would visit his people with Mercy.

The cry for mercy is a powerful prayer.  It can and should be prayed often, anywhere, and always, if possible.  It is the arrow prayer of the heart, piercing the darkness of the unknown, or the unexpected, reaching the ears of Jesus at the right hand of the Father of all mercies.

The prayer for mercy can be prayed by anyone.  We are often, Christian though we are, living with blindness to one degree or another.  How often we do not see the good while with 20/20 eyesight pointing out the failure all around us.  With perfect perception of the splinter in our wife's eye, even offering to correct the malady apparently unnoticed by her, we do not notice or are even aware of the glaring plank hanging out of our eye.

How we must pray more often rather than less, "Jesus, Son of David/Son of God, have mercy on me." And our prayer should continue by way of intercessory prayer for our families, our parish, our priests, our Bishop, "Jesus, have mercy on us all."  Perhaps if this were our prayer more often, then would we more often show mercy to each other, to those over us in the Lord, for our neighbor.    

If Jesus through his mercy opened the eyes of blind Bartimaeus, how much more will he give us new eyes to see him and to follow him.  

Most merciful Master, along with Bartimaeus, we praise you.  

Let us pray: Most merciful Father, thank you for visiting us in the fulness of mercy in the gift of your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen. 



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