ord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. This familiar prayer is known as The Jesus Prayer. It is based on the words spoken by Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel.
The story of Bartimaeus, who features in this Sunday’s Gospel, is full of symbolisms. Bartimaeus’ transformation from a blind beggar to a follower tells us much about Christian discipleship. When Bartimaeus was blind, he was going nowhere, painting a picture of an individual without faith. But then he recognises his need for light, begs and becomes hopeful. Later, he hears about Jesus. Faith begins in hearing and he allowed this faith to change his life. He was not deterred by those who scolded him. On the contrary, it made him even more determined and shouted all the louder, “Lord, have pity on me”. When Jesus finally called him, he cast off his cloak and rose. The casting off his cloak is a baptismal symbol of discarding the old ways and his rising up is an action expressing how one rises in new life at baptism. Bartimaeus then he followed Jesus along the road.
Bartimaeus was physically blind but blindness to the light of Christ comes in many forms: prejudice, refusal to believe, inability to change or to see another opinion, seeing only the faults and ever affirming others, a conscience no longer responding to guilt, insensitivity to feelings, etc. Like Bartimaeus, we must call out to the Lord to free ourselves from blindness, to walk in His light and to radiate His light.
“Lord, have pity on me.” In times of darkness or fatigue, we long for a tangible sign, something to see, something to hold on to. The sacred name of Jesus is what we have. In the name is the presence and power of the person. The Jesus Prayer aims at developing a constant attentiveness to the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives.
Bartimaeus’ story should inspire us to ask ourselves, “What must I cast off if I am to rise and follow Jesus?”