1 Sm 3: 1-10, 19-20
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.”
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.
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.
God’s persistent call
“Here I am,” says Samuel, awakened from sleep by a God who calls to him personally and persistently. Samuel, in training with the temple priest, Eli, assumes it is Eli who keeps arousing him from sleep. He continues to go to Eli saying, “Here I am”, to which Elli says, “Go back to sleep”, assuming the boy has had a dream or heard some other noise in his sleep.
However, upon God’s third call to Samuel, Eli understands the possibility of God at work here, and teaches Samuel how to respond, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Sometimes we may not recognize the persistent call of God to us in ordinary time and in the midst of our ordinary lives. Often it may be someone else- through something we read or a piece of music, a homily at Mass, discerning clarity through Eucharist, a spiritual director’s insightful question or dear friend’s keen listening ear- who first hears God’s continual knocking at the walls of our hearts, minds and spirits.
Today, may we be blessed like Samuel, with the wisdom and grace to take note, to listen to the counsel we receive, and to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Today, may we be blessed to welcome the persistent presence of the Lord more deeply into our lives.
—Kathy Coffey-Guenther, Ph.D., is senior mission and Ignatian leadership specialist at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.
Dear Lord, here I am. Like Samuel, I, too, may be sleeping in my life- distracted and busy, listening to all manner of external noise and finding it hard to focus on the life I truly desire, grounded in your love and life. Dear Lord, please don’t give up on me! Like Samuel, I ask you to keep reaching out and calling my name through the people and experiences you place in my life. Lord, thank you for all of the “Elis” you have given to me, those faithful companions who can hear your voice and see your work in my life- sometimes before I am able to recognize you myself.
Thank you, Lord, for all of the ways your love for me brings you back to me with new invitations and urgent callings to let you in deeper into my life and heart. Thank you, Lord, for the many ways you bless me through your people, the beauty of your creation, and through the rich living of the joys and sorrows of walking with you each day.
Speak, Lord, for I am listening. Here I am, Lord.