From Br. Joseph —
I will raise up a prophet like you among their kinsmen, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command. If any man will not listen…
A colleague addressed me yesterday in the hallway with a warm smile and a friendly, “Hey you.” I returned a big grin. It immediately reminded me of an odd little story called “The Prophet” by Edward Hays (from his book Twelve and One-half Keys).
In this story, an elderly priest bent down to kiss the Holy Bible after the gospel reading during Mass. When he rose back up, his lips had mystically formed the letters Y-O-U in black, two-inch tall lettering. The congregation was in shock. Looking back down at the page, the same word was absent from the printed sentence. The poor priest could no longer speak. It did not hurt except when he tried to pry the letters from his lips. He mumbled his way through the rest of the Mass.
Later, alone in the rectory, the priest thought to himself, “Why, Lord? Why this word out of all the words in the gospel? Surely if a special word was to come, would it not be the sacred name of Jesus, or even the name of God? But this word; why did this small, unimportant word leap off the page and fasten itself to my lips?”
A few days later, the priest met with the bishop. The bishop assigned another to be pastor of the parish and invited the priest to live and work with him. The bishop said to the priest, “You can no longer preach the gospel, you must be the gospel!”
In the years following, the priest picked up the nickname “Father You-who.” It was a logical joke with the letters Y-O-U on his lips. To whom did they refer? Who was YOU? God? The person who looked upon the priest? Who indeed? And as with most prophets, humor was the best defense against the power of their message.
After ten years of faithful service, the priest died. As the priest lay dying, having received the sacraments of the Church, and with his close friend the bishop at his side, the priest tried to speak to thank his friend for their friendship but could not. Suddenly the letters shrunk and disappeared. Slowly, as if tasting a rare wine, the priest closed his lips and then opened them again to faintly whisper, “You!” It was the last word of the dying priest.
Afterwards, the bishop remembered something from long ago, that in the Orient, it is believed you will go straight to heaven if you die with the name of God upon your lips.
Love is about YOU.
We are members of the Body of Christ,
Branches on the Vine,
YOU and I…
Kind of gives “Hey you!” a whole new meaning!?
Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us…