Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.
Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”
So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
This is a great reading! I can imagine Samuel groggily awakening from sleep thinking he had heard Eli calling him. Eli undoubtedly gets very annoyed when Samuel wakes him up a second time. When the Lord calls the third time, Samuel still does not get it because “the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”
How often does the Lord call in my life and I do not recognize his voice? The reading tells us the recognition of God’s voice is itself a gift from God. That is true, but I am also reminded of the advice attributed to St. Ignatius, “pray as if everything depends upon God and work as if everything depends upon you.” We can do things to better prepare ourselves to receive and recognize God’s voice in our lives.
I am reminded of watching the America’s Cup final race this past summer. This is something I would normally not even bother with because I know nothing about sailing, but a sailor friend of mine invited me to watch with him. As we watched he explained what the boats were doing and why. It was fascinating. Because of his many years of “working” at sailing, he was able to bring the race alive for me. He could see things that totally escaped me until he explained them.
I think the same is true in the spiritual life. We can do things like prayer, spiritual direction, and leading an active sacramental life which will prepare us to recognize God’s voice in our lives. When we do hear, may we respond “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish that things that are yours, and to communicate them to others. Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave to St. Ignatius.
—Pedro Arrupe, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!