2nd S. 2021: Your Eli – Be Eli

Today’s reflection is for Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 17, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here. Sadly, there was no recording of this homily. Happily, you can still read it below.

When we lived in Salinas, my sons, Luke and Mark were about two and four years old at the time. I always wanted my boys to see and recognize the Lord Jesus at the time of the elevation of the host. I would lift Mark up so that he could clearly see Father Jim Nizbet hold up the Eucharist and proclaim what we heard John the Baptist proclaim today, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Then and still, I want nothing more than for my sons, like John the Baptist’s disciples, to leave me and become Jesus’ followers for the whole of their life.

It isn’t easy though, to recognize Jesus. Sometimes there’s confusion! After whispering into Mark’s ear a number of times, “Look, there’s Jesus!” One time toward the end of Mass, the altar server grabbed the Missal and held it for Fr. Jim for the closing prayer. Mark leaned over and said, “Dad, why doesn’t Jesus just hold the book himself?” I said, “What?” He said, “You know, the Lord, why doesn’t he hold the book?” And then I got it. The whole time I was pointing to the Eucharist at the ellevation, Mark thought I was talking about Fr. Jim! Which is a whole other lesson!

Our first reading introduced us to young Samuel, who scholars say was about eleven years old when he was dedicated to service at the temple under Eli–the high priest. With Eli’s guidance, Samuel not only became the first great prophet, and last judge of Israel, he also inaugurated the monarchy and blessed first King Saul and then King David. Samuel is counted among the greatest of Israel’s judges, a prophet, and was a hero who rallied the spirit of his people in the midst of oppression, keeping alive their hope and faith. And it all started because Eli knew God, and helped young Samuel hear, know, and respond to God’s voice too. 

From Eli to Samuel, Elizabeth and Zechariah to John the Baptist, from John the Baptist himself to his own disciples, and from you and me, Fr. Manuel and Fr. Jim, there is no greater honor and contribution to the kingdom of God than to help another hear the voice of God, and choose to follow him.

Who was your Eli? Who was your John the Baptist? For me it was first my mom, and then Fr. Manuel, and now my Spiritual Director. Who was it for you? Maybe your Avo, your aunt or uncle, or confirmation sponsor. How did you come to know the name of Jesus, to hear the voice of God, and choose to follow him? Whoever it was, alive on earth or alive in heaven, say a prayer of thanks to him or her. If they are alive, write a note, or an email, or a text to just say thank you. After Mass, tell your spouse or your children or grandchildren how you came to know our Lord. 

Here’s the most important thing, if you know the Lord, and can give credit to another for knowing the name of Jesus and becoming his disciple, who are you lifting up in the pew, pointing to Jesus and saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God?” Can you say with the fullness of heart that you have made a single disciple for the Lord Jesus? If you’re a parent it must be your children. If you are a grandparent, it is your children and grandchildren. If a sponsor, your candidate. A priest, your congregation. 

St. John Vianney said, “When it’s God who is speaking…the proper way to behave is to imitate someone who has an irresistible curiosity and who listens at the keyholes. You must listen to everything God says at the keyhole of your heart.” It is you and I, Fr. Manuel and Sister Wanda, who teach others to listen attentively and to recognize when God speaks to our heart. Thank you mom and Fr. Manuel for helping me to hear God’s voice and to follow him to discipleship, ordination, and salvation. Thank you.

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