Renewed spiritual sight awaits those who seek it
By: By Shawn Reeves
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 28
Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126:1-2,2-3,4-5,6; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52
I have two sons, and this reality largely defines my identity and those of my sons. Others often comment, “They look just like you,” which is a joy to hear and reinforces my sense of “connection” with my sons.
Sometimes, parents are tempted to see their children merely as an extension of themselves, a continuation of their own ego, rather than for the child’s own sake as a distinct individual. Nevertheless, there is a certain degree of truth in the notion that our children extend our presence into the world. In parenthood, something of us is generated forth into a new person, carrying with him or her a continuity of ourselves, an extension of our presence and mark upon the world. In what my sons reflect of me, there my presence persists in the world, in a way, for they are not “sons” generically but are, instead, my sons.
The idea of sonship pervades all three readings this week. In the Gospel, Jesus is announced as “Son of David.” In the second reading, He is the one about whom God uniquely declared, “You are my son. . . . I have begotten you.” In the first reading the Lord speaks of His fatherhood over Israel.
While last week’s readings emphasized the servanthood of Jesus, who “did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many,” the readings this week present a reflection on the Sonship of Jesus, in which the presence of another touches the world through His own presence.
“Son of David” is a title rarely used in the Scriptures. In fact, in Mark’s Gospel it only appears once more beyond our readings this week. Nevertheless, it was a designation of expectation, a title of the one who would come forth from the line of David, a true “son” of his, to provide a triumphant, messianic era. It was a name that signified God’s promise to raise up David’s offspring, establishing his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:12,16), a figure through whom David would be found again in their midst, in a certain sense (Ezekiel 34:23-24), and God would sustain justice and peace through him (Isaiah 9:6).
“I WANT TO SEE”
When Bartimaeus cries out “Son of David” it is an expression that, though his eyes were blind, his soul sensed that before him stands this very offspring of David who was promised to bring peace, justice, and the renewal of David’s kingly presence. He intuited that in this “Son of David” before him stood the continuation of David and the particular friendship between God and His people that David embodied.
But hidden within God’s promise to David’s offspring that “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me” (2 Samuel 7:14) was the delicate whispering of two sonships intertwined — the sonship of David in the flesh and the sonship of God in eternity. While Jesus is truly the “Son of David,” His deepest and most fundamental identity is that of being the one to whom God has declared from all eternity, “You are my son: this day I have begotten you.”
Jesus is that divine Son, who transmits the presence of His Father to the world. Despite the blindness of his eyes, Bartimaeus’ soul perceived this presence in Jesus and expected its power.
Yet, this mystery of the dual sonship of Jesus — Son of David in his humanity and Son of God in his divinity — came to Bartimaeus accompanied by a question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus cried out for Jesus; Jesus “called” back for Bartimaeus with a question. And Bartimaeus responded simply and honestly, “Master, I want to see.”
Bartimaeus longed for the Son of David; Jesus embraced him as the Son of God, granting sight to blind eyes and faith to an observant soul.
May our hearts always echo the heart of Bartimaeus — “Son of David, have pity on me. Master, I want to see” — so that we, too, might enjoy renewed spiritual sight and continuously experience the words of Jesus: “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
SHAWN REEVES has served as the director of religious education at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign since 2001. He and his family are members of St. Malachy’s Parish in Rantoul.