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Father Muench Says...

Listening for the times that God calls us

Jan. 22, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

This week I headed down to Florida for my annual sun gathering expedition.  I visit my brother, Tom, and his wife, my sister-in-law, Mary Lee. 

The trip down was filled with mishaps and I spent most of the day in airport terminals.  That is a most interesting experience since I enjoy being a bit of a people watcher.  As many of you do, I suspect, I enjoy putting together my own set of stories as I watch an individual passing by – or a family scurrying about trying to stay organized. 

However, I finally made it to Florida.

Mary Lee enjoys attending morning Mass so I went along with her to St. Thomas More Church for this morning’s Mass. The Old Testament reading today is a favorite of mine  and I am certain rather familiar to you.  This story is from the Book of Kings – it concerns the young Samuel who become one of the great leaders and judges of Israel.  Samuel as a young man has become an associate to the High Priest, Eli.

The story goes like this: On a particular day Samuel is sleeping in the temple of the Lord and God tries to call out to Samuel. Samuel, however, believes that it is Eli who is calling to him though Eli admits to Samuel that it was not him who called.

Three times this happens and finally Eli realizes that something divine is happening – that Samuel is being called by God.  So, he instructs Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 

Thus, begins for Samuel a close and important relationship with the Lord.  I firmly believe that God calls each one of us; God tries to become part of our lives - often during our life time. 

I know that it is not as dramatic as it was for Samuel.  I believe that often – for each one of us – God strives to reach us. I think of this as truly a call from God for each one of us.  I believe that this call from God is more frequent than we will ever realize.

The Scriptural story seems to indicate that our prayer should often be the same as that of Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 

So, listening is one of those important spiritual qualities that we must develop.  As you have probably learned before, listening is not just hearing – listening demands that we carefully process the material. 

I know that each day there are many voices barraging us with messages.  We hear many of these but we don’t necessarily listen to all of them. Some are not worthy of listening.  However, some of them are from God – truly – and we should listen to them. 

I am certain that you are going to ask me how you or I can tell the difference.  Honestly, I am not absolutely certain.  However, I do know that when I do listen and discover something of God, that I become a very different person, that I often do something, even something spectacular, something I never even thought about before.

So, I know it is so important to keep on listening – I may soon discover something of God in my listening.

Now, here is what I do – I pray – that I may be aware and ready when God becomes part of my listening. 

Then, I have to make some decisions. Is this something that will make my world a better place? Is this something that Jesus would do, something that Jesus would want me to do? Will this help someone and not hurt anyone?

Of course, I know this is not easy.  Yet, I know that our God reaches out to each and every one of us each day – he calls – he wants us to be truly ready.

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”  We will learn to recognize the Lord’s call and when it is aimed at us. 
“Here, I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”

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