LUKE‘S 14TH SUNDAY
In today’s Luke’s gospel reading, we hear about the cure of a blind man in Jericho. We learn by Saint Mark the evangelist who also referred to this miracle in his Gospel, that the man’s name was Bartimaeus. The Lord performed this wayside miracle of the blind man so that even His passage along a road would yield a profitable teaching for His Disciples and for us: that we should in all things, at all times, and in every place do what is beneficial and never be idle.
Bartimaeus was blind, a grown man sitting by the dusty road begging. He was standing by the city gates, defeated by life, no longer seeking to recover his health but wanting merely to survive. He had most probably heard about this Man, someone resembling to the prophets, who was working miracles travelling throughout Judea. One day he hears a group of people go by. He asks the people around him: «Who is it ?» and they reply «Jesus of Nazareth». In a moment all the hope and despair of his life reach a climax. He must seize the passing moment before it disappears. He cries out in desperate hope: «Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me». For him Jesus is not a wandering prophet. All these months that he has been hearing stories about Him, he has come to realize that he is the One about whom the prophets were speaking. He believed that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. Having been raised among the Jews it is certain that he knew that the Christ would be from the seed of David. Therefore he cries out with a strong voice, «Son of David have mercy on me». His words have mercy on me, show that he understood Jesus to be divine and not merely a man. Let us marvel at his staunch confession: although rebuked by many, he did not keep silent, but cried out all the more, urged by the fervent zeal within him.
The blind man used what later became the famous Orthodox Jesus Prayer, a prayer centered on the name of Jesus: «Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner». This prayer is one of inner stability, placing us directly face-to-face with God through a confession of faith concerning Him. According to our Faith, it is the summation of the whole Gospels. We profess the Lordship of Christ, and our whole life is within His will, and there exists no other way. The meaning of have mercy comes from the Greek Kyrie eleison. The word eleison, is derived from the root elaion of the words for olive tree, olive or olive oil. In the Story of Noah (Gen. 8:11) the twig of the olive tree is brought to him to signal the end of the flood. This olive twig means that the wrath of God has ended, that forgiveness is freely given and that we can start the future anew!
The name Jesus means Savior and salvation. Jesus is present inside his name as Savior of the whole world. This is what the holy Apostle Peter assured us of, when standing in his trial in front of the Priests and the Scribes and said: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Saint Necodemus the Haghiorite, a great ecclesiastical
writer, says: “What can be more heavenly, what sweetier or merrier for someone, than to contemplate forever the glorious, the delightful, the beloved name of Jesus Christ? That is the name with which one can ask and receive anything from the Father or from Christ Himself because He has said so to us: ‘And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
One of the reasons which prevent us from being truly ourselves and finding our own way to communicate with God, is that we do not realise the extent to which we are spiritually blind. If only we knew that we were blind, how eagerly we would seek healing. We would seek it as Bartimaeus probably did, from men, doctors, priests, healers. And then having lost all hope like him, we might perhaps turn to God. But the tragedy is that we do not realise our blindness. Too many things engage our eyes, for us to be aware of the invisible to which we are blind. The world in which we live in, can be seen and asserted. Things visible can be affirmed, the invisible ones however cannot be asserted. We must seek this ivisible world and discover it.
Saint Theophylactus, Archbishop of Ochrid, writes about the miracle of Bartimeus healing: «The Lord asked the blind man what he wanted and when He heard that he wanted his sight He gave him his sight; the Lord says: Your faith has made you whole. For you have believed with faith, that I am the son of David the Christ Who is now revealed, and you have shown such zeal, that you did not keep silent even when rebuked. We may learn from this tha,t when we ask with faith, God does not give something other than what we ask for, but the very same thing».
Fr Konstantinos Manetas