- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 10, 2018

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

1st Wednesday of Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20; Mark 1:29-39

Today’s first reading offers a word of encouragement for those who find it hard to stay awake during homilies. God called to Samuel while he was asleep! Without knowing it, the young Samuel found himself in the presence of the Holy One of Israel. Without recognizing it, he heard the voice of the Lord. In Samuel’s divine wake up call we find a confirmation of Isaiah’s oracle: “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name” (Is. 65:1).

The account of Samuel’s call illustrates the importance of listening. Uninvited, the voice of the Holy One of Israel speaks to the deepest longings of the human heart. Because, like Samuel, we don’t recognize the time of our visitation, we set out searching elsewhere. It is here that we notice a difference between Samuel’s experience and ours. The old man, tells Samuel that he was not the one who called him and sends the boy back to the place where he first heard the voice. Eli does not allow him to move in a false direction. Not having an Eli to go to, we try to respond to the longing of our hearts by experimenting with sex, money, drugs or any other enticement. Unlike Eli, our addiction, does not send us back to the place of our calling. Rather, it seeks to enslave us and hold us in bondage.

We need to be vigilant. We need to “be still and know that God is the One calling us” (Cf. Ps. 46:10). To underscore this, the Evangelist Matthew recounts how Jesus told the crowd, “If anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it” (Mat. 24:26). Having heard His voice, we need only enter into the innermost recesses of our hearts. Like Samuel, we need to listen as the Lord speaks to us. Once we have listened with the ears of our hearts, we need to ponder the Words we have heard. We have these comforting words from the prophet Isaiah: “Don’t be afraid. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You belong to me” (Is 43:1). Unlike our addictions, God does not enslave us. No, He seeks to set us free from all that holds us in bondage.

If we surrender to the Word of the Lord, we will learn that He has redeemed us in the Son and has set apart for Himself. Because we belong to Him, we have nothing to fear. He has the power to bring sanity and wholeness to our lives. We have only to be still and seek to know His loving will. Wherever Christ comes, He comes to do good and not evil. Remember the prophetic words He read as He began His preaching ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to pardon prisoners” (Is.61:1). If Christ has set us free, we are free indeed.