Our readings today are about being called. In the Old Testament reading, Samuel is being called by the Lord. But what’s Samuel doing? He’s asleep…in the temple. God has to call him three times before he understands what’s going on and then only because Eli explains it to him. It begs the question, “How many times have you and I been called but we’ve been sleeping? Or maybe we just weren’t paying attention. Either way, we’ve missed the call.
We hear so much today about a shortage of priests in the Church. I don’t believe God’s calling fewer men to the priesthood. I believe that we’re just not listening. The same can be said for any vocation. Take parenthood for example. God calls married couples to be parents. In the marriage vows the priest or deacon asks the couple if they will accept children willingly from God. They respond, “Oh, we will. We will.” knowing that the bride is already on the pill. Obviously they’re not listening. They’re asleep in the church just as much as Samuel was asleep in the temple.
God calls all of us to be disciples and to make disciples of others. The word “disciple” means “student”. How many of us are actually students of God’s word? This weekend we’re being asked to renew our subscriptions to the Saint Louis Review. Reading the review is critical if we’re going to be disciples. If our only source of Catholic news is the secular media, we’re in real trouble.
There was a letter to the editor in the paper this week. The writer said that the Church should stop worrying about collections and worry about taking care of the poor. Huh! How do we take care of the poor if we don’t have collections? This is the kind of stupid statement that we have to watch out for. We have to be ready to defend the faith.
We’re constantly being called by God to do something. Unfortunately, we’re being pulled in so many different ways, God’s message can get lost. We’re being bombarded by television, the internet, cell phones, iPods, and so many other things God can’t get through. So many people can’t stand even a moment of silence in their lives. Most of us carry cell phones so we won’t miss a message from our friends or our family. We have answering machines at home so that we won’t miss an important call, but do we ever set aside time to listen to God?
The great thing about God is that He’s very patient. If we’re busy, He’ll wait until we have some quiet time before He talks to us. The trouble is, if we never have any quiet time, He can’t get through. If all we can spare is 45 minutes once a week to come to mass, we may never get God’s message, especially if we spend our time at mass thinking about other things.
Notice what Eli told Samuel to say to God, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.” We Catholics are known for our rote prayers; The Our Father, The Hail Mary, our Prayer to the Infant of Prague. These are all great prayers, but maybe Eli’s words should be part of our prayer ritual too. “Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.” Then LISTEN! Don’t tell God what you want. Don’t tell Him how to be God. He already knows! He knows everything. You and I, not so much. But He’ll fill us in if we give Him a chance.
If you or I had a chance to sit down with an expert in a field where we have a lot of interest and we had a limited amount of time to be with that person, would we want to dominate the conversation, or would we take advantage of the opportunity to learn something? I think we all know the answer. Why do we act so differently when we talk with God? Notice I said “talk with”, not “talk to.” There’s a big difference.
The reading ends, “he grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” If you get a chance, read the Book of Samuel right before and right after this reading. The temple was a mess. Eli was not a good leader. God will punish him for his failure, but Samuel will become a great leader. Why? Because He listened to God.
David wrote in Psalm 40, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” We just repeated that line five times. Did we mean it? Is it part of our lives? “Sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.” Do we have open ears? Are we listening for God’s call? Or when He calls will He get a busy signal?
When the two disciples of John the Baptist followed Jesus, how did they answer when He questioned them? They called Him teacher. They wanted to learn from Him. They wanted to be disciples. They had no idea what that meant, but they knew what they wanted. They didn’t know how following this Rabbi, this teacher Jesus would end, but they knew that they had to answer the call. And so they did.
Can we do any less?