1st Wednesday of Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 3: 1 – 10, 19 – 20; Ps 40; Mark 1: 29- 39
Yesterday at Sext, the reading from Sirach proclaimed: “Beloved of his people, dear to his Maker, dedicated from his mother’s womb, consecrated to the Lord as a prophet was Samuel, the judge and priest.” (Sir 46: 43)
Before Samuel became judge, priest, prophet, he needed to learn the meaning of his mother’s dedication and it had to be very personal. In the night, God called the child but he needed the help of Eli to understand what was happening. Eli’s advice was so simple and direct: “Go to sleep and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
And so God called and so Samuel responded. And from then on a relationship of belief, of trust, of service began, continued and deepened. The reading states it very simply, “Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.”
There is something in this passage which touches upon our own personal relationship with God. None of us would be here today in this Abbey Church celebrating the Holy Eucharist save for an Eli in our lives. This Eli, maybe one, perhaps more than one, by teaching, by example contributed to our own story of trust, belief in God. Whether parents, relatives, clergy, religious, anyone, as an Eli, have brought us to know the Lord, to recognize His voice however it comes, to appreciate His presence surrounding us.
Surely, all his life, Samuel was grateful for the loving wisdom of Eli. Samuel’s encounter with God, that Eli named, led him to being beloved of Israel, prophet, priest and judge. Eli, a man of God, recognized the presence of God; it was exceedingly clear that young Samuel’s experience was much more than a sleeping child’s dream.
Perhaps, this reading, this encounter between Samuel and Eli, would move us to name an Eli or two whose wisdom graced us in our own journey of faith. But not just to name but also to hold this person or persons in grateful prayer to the Lord, because we have been led to pray: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”