2nd Sun [B] 2006

Fr. Charles Irvin

1 Samuel 3:3-10,19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15,17-20; John 1:35-42

Today’s first reading gives us a beautiful and simple story from the Old Testament’s First Book of Samuel. A young boy, Samuel, apprenticing with an old priest, Eli, is awakened by a voice, a voice he heard perhaps in a dream. He thinks Eli is calling him. Eli is wise. Thinking it to be an illusion he tells the boy to go back to sleep. The voice calls a second time. After the third time Eli begins to realize that God is really calling the boy and so tells him “If you are called again reply “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Once again we see that God takes the initiative. This is the first and most fundamental realization we must all have. God offers, we respond. We may not understand why but we must always be open to God’s initiatives. And God’s initiatives come in unexpected ways to unexpected people. For even though young Samuel was just a kid, a kid who was “not familiar with the Lord,” who was not particularly “religious,” he became God’s first Old Testament prophet, the first in a long line of prophets.

Similarly with St. Peter. He wasn’t particularly religious. He was brash, presumptuous, and unreliable, and yet became the chief among the other Twelve Apostles, not by his choice and certainly not by theirs. He became the “Rock” who turned out to be so by God’s choice. Just why God chose him remains a mystery.

For Eli, for Samuel, and for Peter, the critical thing was in the fact of their response and in the quality of their response. They were open to the belief that God acts in human history and that God acts in human lives.

Is there such a thing as destiny, or is everything what it is, and is everyone who they are, simply because of blind chance? Simply by accident? Cynics and fatalists claim that to be so. People of faith see purposefulness in life.

The awesome reality is that God wanted to be personally involved with Samuel. And the equally awesome reality is that God wants to be personally involved with you, in all that you think and say and do. He wants to be so involved with you that you become an actual source of of His presence, His power, and His love in our world.

It’s not easy to discern our destiny and to feel with certainty that our lives are important to God and that we play a significant role in His plans and purposes for those around us. God makes us temples of His Holy Spirit. Our culture tells us that our bodies are to be used as temples of pleasure. We believe in the resurrection of our bodies and life everlasting in them forever. And while the world tells us otherwise we believe that our bodies and souls are a part of God’s plans.

Samuel’s call is your call. My call is your call. We stand on the same ground and occupy the same place in the eyes of God. He wants us all for something. He wants to be with us so much that when we speak He speaks, when we touch He touches, when we bless He blesses, when we love He loves.

What that means is that if you work in health care you bring Christ the Healer to the sick in your artful and compassionate caring for them. If you are a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, and employee or an employer, a student or a teacher, you bring the closeness of God into whatever endeavor you are about. In every field in which you work you, like Samuel, are called to touch others with the presence of God and to be a part of finishing the unfinished work of His creation.

If you are a doctor, what is there in your practice or in your artful caring that remains to be touched by God? If you are a lawyer or a judge, what is there in you work that needs to be brought under the judgment of God? If you are a teacher, what is there in your school that needs to be touched by the Truth that is God? No matter what your calling may be, nor matter how high or lowly your occupation, your profession, or your job, no matter who you may be in this world of ours, some things and some people stand in need of the presence of God and you may be the only source or agent available to accomplish that purpose and meet that destiny. 

The big issue for us is not whether God speaks to us. It is rather seeing the hand of God and the presence of God in people and in events. He uses them as His means of reaching us. The most critical issue for us is whether and how we respond. It’s the question of our willingness to respond.

God has a Word for you… He has something to say to you. God has something in mind for you – personally and individually. Are you willing to listen up and pay attention to Him? To take a good look at what He’s trying to say to you? God has a Word for you. He has something He wants to say to you.

To be aware of what God wants to say to you requires that you find some time and make some space in your world in which you can be quiet and reflective. The Evil One will try to fill you ears with noise and your mind with distractions. You will find yourself in a religious battle, one that’s not easily won. But do not easily give up – Jesus has promised to be with you. And do not worry about what to say – the Holy Spirit will give you what you need. The big question is not how — the big question is whether. Will you be like Samuel?

The next time you pray, be sure to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”