Sunday, August 27, 2017

Eliakim and the First Sunday in Seminary

Here is my homily from this morning for Mass with the new men and other seminarians.

At the time of the Assyrian invasion, 2718 years ago, Eliakim was chosen as a father to the people of Judah. 

He was trustworthy and dependable. He worked well with adversaries. He was a faithful administrator who made wise decisions.  He looked a lot like you, except he lacked a Bachelor’s Degree and probably would not have been accepted into First Pre-Theology.

God chose him as the “father” of the people of Judah.  But he wasn’t the Messiah; in fact, Judah would be pretty well decimated and dispersed in  the Babylonian Exile shortly after he died.  He wasn’t the Messiah, but he was, this Eliakim son of Hilkiah, called to be, as the Scriptures tell us, “God’s Servant.”

A strange title, this “God’s Servant,” first applied to Isaiah the Prophet, and then to Isaiah’s unnamed “Suffering Servant,” and only then to Israel herself and the father of Judah.

It is a title that would be used by the Lord Jesus to describe himself, when he told us that he had come ‘not so much to be served, as to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:46.)

And it was because Eliakim was a “Servant of God,” that God chose him to be called “Father,” the father to the house of Judah, the holder of the keys to the Lord’s own City, (Mark 22:22a.)  the one with the power to open and shut, to loose and to bind,  the faithful servant, ever seeking to serve, ever seeking the last place.

Eliakim foreshadows God’s call to you: to be a servant, and not a King.  To be the suffering servant, loving unto death, picking up the Cross. To be a Father, to hold the keys, but to exercise that authority with mercy and love unto death.

That is the life God calls you to in this Holy House.  Seeking nothing but to empty yourself of all that keeps you from God, desiring nothing so much as to grow in the image of Christ, our great high Priest, who out of love for sinful man became a weak and little baby, born in a feed-box and crucified most cruelly upon a Cross, calling us to love one another as he has first loved us.

And that, my brothers, is every bit of why you are here.

For, while it is true, that with Peter and the other disciples Christ will ask you repeatedly in the coming years,“Who do you say I am?” 

First, today, he tells you who he says you are.  You are his servant, whom he loves, and calls to live and love and suffer with him upon the Cross, in a great Sacrifice of Praise, offered for all who will need you, ever-joining your little crosses to his Perfect One, in a grand chorus of obedient praise of the Love who is God.

There is no more blessed call, and of it we will never be worthy.  But how blessed we are to be called to this holy place.