Scripture, when heard through the Spirit, comes so alive, I marvel.
Today's first reading, 1 Samuel 3:3-10,19, tells the story of Samuel who was sleeping near the ark of the Lord, and kept hearing someone call his name. He jumped up several times and went to his master, the prophet Eli, who returned him to his sleep, saying that he hadn't called Samuel.
Finally, Eli caught on to what was happening and told Samuel to answer the Voice, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." And Samuel went on to serve the Lord. We spent last week and will spend this week at Mass listening to the high points of the first book of Samuel, very suspenseful.
My toes curled when I read this before Mass. Much was made in today's homily of the obedience of Samuel, trusting that it was the Lord calling him, but think of what would have happened if Eli, woken from sleep, had snapped at his servant, "Whaddya want! I TOLD you, I didn't call you! You gotta stop eating that spicy food before bedtime!"
The next time Samuel was awakened by his name, he might have thought to himself, "Well, I'm sure I heard my name, but if I bother Eli again, he'll murdalize me." And rolled over and dismissed the call.
Although the reading fit today's Vocation Sunday focus (we had a seminarian speak to us after Communion: always nice to put a face to the men for whom I pray), it also fits our daily vocation as Christians to be ready to give Christ's Love and Truth to others. Someone comes bounding up to us with what seems to be an inane opinion or an elementary question, and are we tempted to dismiss them with a quick putting-off response, eager to get on to the next thing, or with an over-strong answer that surpresses any further interaction? Do we ask them why they're asking or opining?
It doesn't have to be about faith, either. How many times each week are we jumped with what seems like an obvious or even stupid question? I know that I will be shown in Purgatory all the times I sent the person away, even interrupting them, with an efficient but hasty answer, leaving nothing for them to do in the decision, solving their problem for them, getting them away as fast as possible so I can recollect my broken attention and return to the task at hand. Better to pray to relax and listen, being open to them, serving them. Even if the next question isn't "How can I attain Eternal Life?" I will still be acting as Christ would if He were the One in the situation.
Bill Nye, Dimestore Eugenicist
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