“Samuel, Samuel! He answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3, 3-10.
We are in Subiaco, and at the cave site where Saint Benedict formed his first congregation of monks. At Mass this morning, we pilgrims know that centuries ago Saint Francis of Assisi himself came to this very place — to venerate the holy memory of Benedict, how fortunate we are to visit here today.
Today’s gospel is about the “shout out” from John the Baptist, and the words “Behold the Lamb of God”; the first reading from the prophet Samuel tells God: “Here I am!” Both figures demonstrate to us how great prophets prepare the transition for what would come after them, and make ready a new age.
Maybe we can appreciate these remarkable religious and their “handoffs” — in contemporary terms?
Let’s consider one example in the world of sports and professional football. It comes in the person of Andrew Luck. What a name for a football player! He combines excellent physical strength, intellectual ability, and the perfect name in a sport that requires luck and plenty of determination.
About two years ago (3/18/13), I listened to a radio interview with Andrew Luck, the young quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. Actor Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing” brings very engaging people to this public radio program on WNYC, New York.
Interestingly, Baldwin knows something about football, having played high school football on Long Island, and “touch football” with his brothers and friends.
In this interview, Luck talked — in a tender voice about his “humbling” years of training. As a boy in high school, he attended the Archie Manning’s training camp for “promising quarterbacks,” and Luck idolized Payton Manning. How ironic that years later Luck would take over the quarterback position from Payton Manning at the Colts.
Luck recalled his rookie year at Stanford and how he was redshirted to become “faster, stronger,” and mentally equipped to read the elaborate game plans and join the team as its leader. He spoke about the very rigor of the NFL draft itself, what it’s like taking the “Wonderlic test,” that “pressure of the clock,” mind-bending test that computes players’ learning and problem-solving skills. How team doctors examine and measure every bump and scar on the body to assure both coaches and owners of the benefit of the new hire.
Andrew is quite the specimen — and when sacked by the opposing players, is known to get up on his feet, and tell his opponent: “OK, that’s quite a hit! Good Work!”
After so many victories – and having defeated so many older, gifted players – including Payton Manning in last week’s playoff game, Andrew Luck is in the “limelight from where age must pass as youth enters.”
Samuel anoints King David. John the Baptist sees Jesus and his healing and preaching ministry, the baptism at the Jordan, and the call to the apostles Peter and Andrew. Here too, “age must pass as youth enters.” The youthful David and the young Jesus provide a new age in the unfolding spiritual narrative.
Yours is an unfolding spiritual narrative as well. The person you were entering Saint Mary’s College is changing, adapting, and growing with new friends, developing new ideas, and exploring new terrain.
As you fast approach that very last semester at Saint Mary’s, and fifteen weeks away from May graduation, you are more confident and ready to meet a world of challenges ahead. Equipped with a gospel, you are prepared to serve a chaotic universe in the name Jesus Christ.
As you rely on him, so much rides on you.
So much rides on each of us as well: teachers, mentors, coaches, and the family of faith that has formed you. My prayer is that we give you grand entry onto this arena – fully acknowledging, “our age must pass as youth enters.”
Shrine of the Sacred Cave of Saint Benedict, Subiaco, Italy
“Walking in the Footsteps of the Early Christians,” Saint Mary’s College, Pilgrimage to Rome Jan. 12 – Feb. 2, 2015.
Sports Update: The New England Patriots (Tom Brady) beat (Andrew Luck) the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.
Here’s the March 17, 2013 interview with Andrew Luck on WNYC, worth listening!