The past few weeks I got myself hooked on a sci-fi show that has already completed two seasons. It was a minor plot point, but somewhere in the second season one character lost some of her memories. As she struggled with those lost memories and not completely knowing who she was anymore, another character gave a remarkable line. He said, “maybe a person is best defined by how they affect those around them.”
While praying with the Scriptures for today I could not get that line out of my head because the readings do not bother telling us much about what the Lord actually said or did – there are a lot of missing pieces here. The first reading was that great narrative of the Lord calling to Samuel repeatedly in the middle of the night. Three times the Lord calls to him and three times he wakes from his sleep and goes to Eli and three times Eli tells him to go back to bed. Finally, that last time Eli recognizes this must be the Lord and instructs Samuel to tell the Lord that his servant is listening if he is called again. So after Samuel goes back to bed, for a forth time the Lord calls out to Samuel and Samuel says, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And after all build up to what the Lord wants to say and all the effort to have Samuel listen the Lord says… well, we don’t know. The lectionary reading skips nine versus at that point, you’d have to pull out your bible to hear what He says. But what the reading does give us is how Samuel was affected. The next line is, “Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him.” Whatever the Lord had to say to Samuel that night kept his whole life for years to come on the right path of remaining close to the Lord.
Feeling like some details were missing happened in the Gospel too. John points out Jesus as the Lamb of God and two of the disciples go off to follow him. They address him as rabbi, as teacher, and want to know where he is staying. Those first two disciples to follow after Jesus stayed with him the entire day, and Jesus tells them… again, we don’t know. And this time there are no skipped versus, the Gospel simply doesn’t give any clue to what those two disciples heard or saw or asked that whole day. What it does say is how they were affected. Andrew was one of those two and he tell his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah”. Whatever Jesus said that day, Andrew went from seeing Jesus as a teacher to seeing him as the Messiah in a single day.
We are at the very start of Ordinary time and will have another thirty-three Sundays to what today’s Scripture leaves out, to hear all about what Jesus says and what he does. This week teaches us something even more fundamental: when the Lord speaks, lives are changed. When you give God the opportunity to enter your life, when you tell Him to speak because you are listening, when you ask him where He is staying so that you can be there too… when you listen to the Gospels in the year to come… you life will be changed. And as it does, as the year goes on and you put that effort into hearing God’s word and taking it into your lives, slowly start asking yourself how you have affected the people around yourself. You will discover that the Lord has transformed you into an incredible person if you give him the chance.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.