Saturday, January 17, 2015

Come, and you will see!

“Come, and you will see."
The Oscar nominations were revealed last Thursday.  And there is a movie out that is up for best picture.  It is one of the few I have already seen.  Maybe you saw it too:  Boyhood.  This is a movie about the boyhood of a main character named Mason, who is played by a young actor named Ellar Coltrane.  It shows the boy growing up in a broken family and how he comes of age in today’s changing world.
     But the most impressive thing about this movie is that it was filmed over the course of twelve years --  with the same actors.  So back in 2002 the director started filming when the main character was only six.  The movie ends when he is actually eighteen.  The director confesses that he really didn’t know how the whole thing would end up, until the whole project was finished in 2014.  All kinds of unexpected things could have happened along the way, and the movie may have become a total flop.  But it didn’t.  It’s nominated! 
     Somehow, when they spliced together all the years of filming, the movie came out pretty good.  It may win the Academy Award.
     Sometimes when we look at our own lives, we don’t have the faith that even this director did.  We might not see how the events of our life tie together.  Maybe life seems rambling to you.  Incongruous.  Events unrelated. Some see jobs come and go, friendships start and end, with nothing to tie it all together.  Others feel like they are a victim of circumstances, that there really is no plan to life.  And spiritually ... you may believe God takes no notice of your life.  If your life were shown on the big screen, you might imagine folks would fall asleep.
     No!  That’s not how a vocation works.  That’s not how God calls us, directs us, and reviews our lives.  Our God is more like a benevolent movie director.  And your life is up for nomination.  Your life has been unfolding ever since your early encounter with God as the director, and today he invites you to “Come and you will See” him at work all along the way.
     For me, I remember a moment when I was walking in to church with my dad, I must have been 6.  And when we entered the church, he pointed up to a large stained glass window of St Patrick up in the back of Church.  He told me, “That’s your patron saint.”   I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but when I review the movie picture of my life, I see that it was one encounter where God was planting seeds through my dad.  It was one of my earliest encounters with God who eventually directed my life towards the priesthood.
     Everyone here has a vocation story like that.  It started when God found you very early, and planted seeds of future happiness.   In fact that’s all we hear in today’s readings.
     In our first reading, the prophet Samuel reflects back when he was about eight or ten and he heard God calling him at night.  He asked Eli what it was, and Eli told him to pray:  “Speak Lord Your servant is listening.”  That was the start of the prophet learning to listen to God.  That kid had no idea he’s become Samuel the prophet.  But he tells that story so that we can see how God had been working in his life all along the way. 
     In our Gospel, John the Evangelist tells the story of the day that John the Baptist handed the ministry off to Jesus.  Behold the Lamb of God.  Go to him instead of me.     He recalls that it was Andrew and a second man, unnamed who were the first ones called.     Commentators say that it is likely St. John himself.  And we know John brought James.  So this is John’s memory of what happened years earlier when God first called him. 
     As he reviews the film of his life, he recalls that was how St. Peter came into the group, his brother Andrew told him to join.  And when Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus, the Gospel writer recalls that’s the moment when Peter got his new name:  Cephas. But none of them had any idea that this all made sense, until they came to see Christ.  These are all recollections / flashbacks of God’s work in the lives of these men. 
     They recall these events in today’s readings to teach us this fundamental truth:  God works all the time in all our lives loving and caring for us, even though we don’t realize it til later.   So, how can you realize it today ?  Jesus says, “Come to me and you will see.”
     Ask the Lord in prayer to replay the moments of your life when the two of you met, when you grew in faith, when he was with you in hard times and good times, and you will see.  If you have a question about a certain turn of your life, ask him to show you again and listen as Eli instructed Samuel:  “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”    Our readings today are small glimpses into the vocation of ordinary people like Samuel, Eli, the Baptist, Andrew, and likely James and John.  And Jesus.  They all drew power and grace from prayerful remembrance.  I bet there were times when the twelve apostles sat around after Jesus death and asked each other, “Do you remember when you first met him?”
     Well, that invitation comes today to you as well.  Do you remember when you first met him?  Open up some picture albums and old journals.  Come and see.  He’s there.   And it’s not just a thing of the past.  He is still calling you and dying to meet you even today.  They may seem like insignificant events now, and ordinary … but your faith says otherwise.
     You are the star of this movie directed by Christ.   And because he is the director, you are nominated for better than an Academy award!   How will this picture unfold tomorrow?  If you are here to receive Christ into your heart, I would say it will be a blockbuster.   As Jesus says today:  “Come to me and you will see.”

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