It was quite a busy weekend here at the Seminary. But I guess I can’t really complain, because really it was all about celebration. Friday night we welcomed in 20 of our new guys to Candidacy, which means, like I was this time last year, they officially were called by their bishops to be candidates for Holy Orders. And then Saturday morning, my classmates and I were called by our bishops to become instituted Lectors. I can’t say how joyful I was to have my parents here to celebrate with me, the ones who first shared the Word of God with me. And now God has so blessed me as to be called to share it with them somehow! And then some of you were able to make it down here to take it all in. What a joy, since you’ve shared your home with me so many times, and now I could share mine with you and welcome you and have you as a part of my memories and my call to be a sharer of the Word of God.
So I know a title like ‘instituted lector’ might sound all official and technical, but it’s nothing to get to afraid about. Or is it? Well, if I saw this call from my bishop to become not only a reader of words, but a proclaimer of the Word, as meaning simply that I’m now allowed to read at Mass here at the Seminary (I know, it seemed weird to me that I wasn’t able to before, even though I could at home, but we have our reasons!), I’d be missing the point, misunderstanding the call. I think what Bishop Alex Salazar had to say to our new Candidates pretty much summed up our call as Lectors as well: we don’t receive Holy Orders for ourselves; we don’t forgive our own sins; we don’t anoint ourselves; we don’t consecrate the Eucharist for ourselves.
Now that I am called to be a Lector, a proclaimer of the Word, I do not read the Bible only for myself. I read it for you. I read it for my mom and dad. I read it for the many, many people God will put in my life that I may never even get to actually say a word to. Of course, this isn’t to say that you don’t need to dive deeply into Scripture too! But it means that when I pick up that book, in which God has used our language, our talents, our weaknesses and strengths to reach out to us and make himself known, it cannot be selfish anymore.
And so for those of you I was so fortunate to have join me on that special day, I hope you could feel that joy and know that no matter how much it seemed to be about me and my classmates, it was not about me. It was about you. It was not just another stepping-stone toward priesthood for me. And that is why I wanted you there and was so glad you were all there. I know the Word of God is not about me.
So one of the things I’ve learned most about being a lector, one who proclaims the Word at Mass, like I know some of you are, is that it’s not about me up there, how well I can read, how exciting a story teller I am. We’re reading, and we’re sharing the faithfulness of God. We read about how ‘God remembered Noah’ Genesis 8:1), how he ‘hears the cry of the poor’ (Psalm 34:7), and ‘see, upon the palms of my hands I have carved your name’ (Isaiah 49:16). Our God is not a God who forgets us. When we forget him, he does not forget us; when we ignore his Word, he goes on speaking it; when we refuse to read his Word, God just writes it larger on our hearts. So for all of you who proclaim the Word at Mass, and for all of you who open the Bible a lot, and for all of us who know we don’t open it often enough, let us know this: we’re not just reading words out loud to people; it’s not just a book; it is God’s own faithfulness to us. Because “even if we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself’ (2 Timothy 2:13). That celebration of my institution as a Lector here at the Seminary was not about what I’ve done to get this far, but it had everything to do with God’s own faithfulness in bringing me and my classmates this far, and letting His Word bring you and me together, so that we might know God’s faithfulness!