Monday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
The russian Pilgrim
Now as he approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God. Lk 18,35-43
In the tradition of the Eastern churches, the journey of faith is identified in the prayer of the russian Pilgrims, who was used to spend his life walking through the birch woods and across the steppes repeating day and night, on the rhythm of the breath, the prayer of the blind of Jericho: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!”. We are this blind man, incurably sick of self-justification, power, wealth and property. His blindness is the symbol of our hardness of heart which makes us unable to “follow by giving glory to God” along the road of the life. It is for this reason that, as the russian Pilgrim, we must repeat at every step the prayer of the blind man of Jericho: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!”. To live the life with this prayer on the heart and on the lips means to fight a battle against ourselves which we cannot win remaining alone. We need the help of the Lord, who at a certain point, attracted by our insistence, will ask us: “What do you want me to do for you?”. And we will answer: “Lord, please let me see again!”. And he will say: “Have sight; your faith has saved you”. Then we will also start to “follow him, glorifying God” and it will be the beginning of a new journey as it was for this blind man. But it will be a tiring journey. Jericho, in fact, is close to the Dead Sea, four hundred feet below the sea level, and Jerusalem, the city to which the Lord is going,, is situated on a hill. It will be an uphill path, during which we will have to repeat at every step the prayer of the russian Pilgrim: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!”. It is the journey of the life and of the faith: it is the only one to delve into the mystery and to discover the secret of the joy.