“Like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
These words from Saint Peter’s epistle seem to have special meaning to me in these days, as I am celebrating the high school graduation of one of my daughters. Recently the graduates and their parents all gathered to watch a movie that showed our children first as babies, and then as the young adults they have become. It generated many laughs, and probably a few tears, as we all remembered the transformation that had occurred over the past eighteen years. Although the change happened before our eyes, it had occurred incrementally, and its significance was often hidden to us. These contrasting photographs brought the transformation into plain view.
I joked with my wife that it would be fun to update the movie in twenty years. Another transformation, perhaps almost as significant, will probably occur. Adulthood has its own challenges that tests our mettle, and that hopefully prepare us for the journey to come. And it is a wonderful journey. My daughter has her own dreams to pursue, and I trust those dreams because I see God at work in her life. I see the Master’s hand working in her and His voice speaking to her.
I know His hands and voice from my own experience, too. But like the growth of my daughter, I cannot always see it day by day – sometimes it takes some time and distance. We are blessed to have all four grandparents with us, and they provide a perspective of still more decades. As we celebrate together, I can only imagine the additional perspective that additional years have provided, as they see their children and grandchildren maturing.
The Gospel message reminds us that sometimes it also takes others to help us see and hear what God is doing. Bartimaeus was Timeas’ son, but perhaps to many in the crowd he was just a blind beggar. When Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, others in the crowd told him to be quiet; they did not want to listen to him crying out “Son of David, have pity on me.” Instead of responding directly, Jesus asked the people in the crowd around him to call for Bartimaeus. They listened. “Hey, Bartimaeus!” “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
Bartimaeus was healed of his blindness. We know that this transformation for Bartimaeus was significant. His dream – “I want to see” – was fulfilled. However, another miracle may also have occurred. Perhaps Jesus’ choice to involve the crowd in the healing of Bartimaeus was also important to help them to “grow in salvation”, to borrow from Saint Peter’s words. Something powerful and transformative occurs when we get to be a part of the Word going forth into the world.
In my own life, I go through periods of consolation and desolation. (Thanks to Father Greg Carlson for this useful terminology, which comes from St. Ignatius.) During times of desolation, it can be hard to see how we are growing in salvation at all. But hopefully, we don’t lose heart and we keep doing what we are supposed to do. And with time and distance, we can indeed see God at work. And sometimes, especially during periods of desolation, we just need others to tell us, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” This is a great source of comfort indeed.
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