One of the most commonly recognized stories in the Hebrew Scriptures appears as today’s first lectionary reading. (1SM 3) It’s the story of the boy Samuel in his first days in the temple when “he was not yet familiar with the Lord.” It could actually be presented as a comedy in a religion class with Samuel getting out of bed and running to Eli saying, “You called me!” and Eli responding: “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed!” By the third time this happens, Eli the prophet catches on that God is calling the boy, so he instructs Samuel to answer, saying,”Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
Many of us long for such a clear message from God, and to be able to recognize it when it comes. Some of us have wise people who help us interpret messages when we don’t recognize the voice of God. To be fair, we can’t always count on such a “direct address” as we find in today’s reading. How have you heard God speaking in your life? Do you allow at least a modicum of silence in your days so that you might hear a message? Are you open to new ways of hearing, new sources of wisdom? Have you any prompts in your environment? A candle perhaps, or music? Or perhaps an icon, a favorite picture of Jesus? There are many ways of preparation to hear the voice of God. And always, an open heart can echo this morning’s responsorial psalm, saying: “Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will!” If you put yourself in the place of most opportunity (openness) and make it a habit to call to God, you might be surprised someday to hear God’s voice in answer!