“Rabbi, which translated means Teacher, where are you staying? He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.'”
God calls on us like he called the great prophets Samuel, John the Baptist, and Jesus. These were prophets and heralds of a new age — but mostly witnesses, and among them Martin Luther King, who called on our nation to heal a legacy of racial injustice.
Prophets and apostles have to begin somewhere.
As a “prophet in training,” Samuel was an apprentice prophet to Eli. While keeping watch over the temple’s flame, Samuel was beginning to listen for God’s voice. In sleep, God revealed his presence, calling out, “Samuel, Samuel.”
He answered, “Speak for your servant is listening.” Samuel anointed Saul and later David, thereby giving God’s approval to their sacred role for the Jewish people.
Andrew and his brother Peter were at the Jordan River when they heard Jesus calling, “Come, and you shall see.”
Is there a calling in your life? Do you hear, however, faint, the Lord’s voice, saying: “Come, and you shall see.”
I’m neither a prophet nor an apostle – but I believe each Christian is a witness who answers a call. How do I live the “gospel life?”
As a Catholic priest, I’ve become accustomed to questions. Naturally, people are curious. One question people often ask: When did you decide to become a priest? After all these years, I finally have arrived at a meaningful reply.
I respond by politely saying that because my ordination was so long ago, I don’t recall. Of course, this is a ploy. It’s what I say next that gets attention. I’ll talk about a person or a situation, very much in the present.
For example, last month, I witnessed and lived with a parish community in Santa Monica. I met its pastor Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson who along with his parishioners – who so inspired me, that “I decided to become a priest.”
Slightly perplexed, the person asking the question will say: “That’s impossible. You have been a priest far longer than that.” True, but my point is that it’s how you live the “gospel life” now that mostly counts.
Day to day, each of us answers an urgent call to service expressed within a community of faith. My prayer is that I never pass by the opportunity to respond meaningfully to that call. Yet, I would have to admit; I have been blind to the needs of people around me. In the gospel time after time, Jesus healed people of their blindness, so too with us.
For all our reasonable efforts at “distance worship” via live-streaming of Masses, the overall experience of this past year tells us that the sacramental community is very much a living and vibrant aspect of our collective lives. Authentic religious practice helps us to better focus on our vision of faith. Again, this is something that needs to be seen and witnessed first-hand. Here’s a brief preview of our Sunday to Sunday episode on Saint Monica’s extraordinary gospel witness.
In his meditative voice, Father Jim Turro, a great teacher of mine, writes, “So whatever the anguish, whatever the pain lurks out there in the deep, this much is at least is true: Christ is there to support you.” So, come, and you will see!
Take note of the word “Come.” Jesus did not say “go” or “tune in.” When we embark on this journey of faith, we join Christ’s efforts to serve, heal, and nourish one another and those most in need.
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.
Lord our God,
We see how oppression and violence are our sad inheritance, one generation to the next.
We look for you where the lowly are raised up and where the mighty are brought down.
We find you there in your servants, and we give you thanks this day for your preacher and witness, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fill us with your spirit: where our human community is divided by racism, torn by repression, saddened by fear and ignorance, may we give ourselves to your work of healing.
Grant this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Closing Prayer, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Prayer Service, University of Notre Dame, January 18, 2016.