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Father Muench Says...

‘Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will’

January 28, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I would like to look back with you at the Old Testament Sunday reading a few weeks ago.  It was the reading of the story of the young Samuel from the First Book of Samuel.  I am certain you remember the story.  It’s familiar because we have a song often used at Mass with a the refrain that comes from this story – “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will – your servant is listening.

The story begins with Samuel’s mother, Hannah, who comes to pray at the shrine in Shiloh  where Eli is the priest.  Hannah is childless and she prays with a promise to God that if she has a child, she will place this child in the service of God and of the priest, Eli. 

Hannah gives birth to Samuel and places him in the service of Eli. She prays – “I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request.  Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord, as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.”

In the Sunday reading, the young Samuel is sleeping in the temple before the Ark of the Covenant.  In a sort of vision God calls Samuel.  Samuel is surprised; he is confused and thinks it is Eli who is calling him “Here I am, you called me.”

Eli realizes that it is God who is calling him.  Eli instructs the young man that if he is called again, to respond in faith and trust “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 

This incident begins Samuel’s vocation as one of the most important figures in the Old Testament – a Judge of the Hebrew people.

I believe that the Lord has a message for each of us every day of our lives.  Each day the Lord calls us as he did Samuel.  God seeks to find a way to get his message to us.  Often, we are confused like Samuel.  We are called to be people of faith, a faith that makes us ready to listen and recognize the Lord’s message for us.

Each and every day of our lives, the Lord has a message for us.  The Lord’s message comes when we least expect, often in ways that are a complete surprise to us.  It may be something we hear at Mass, something in the Scriptures that are read at Mass or in one of the prayers.  That is why our opening prayer at Mass should be, “Here I am Lord, your servant is listening.” 

It may be a line from one of the songs that are sung at Mass.  I like to encourage all to follow the words of the songs at Mass even when they do not sing.  There are so many wonderful messages for us in those songs.
There are many other ways that the Lord brings his message to us.  It may be through a person, someone in the family – often, a child. Then again it may be someone who may be a complete stranger – a complete surprise. We will know when it is from the Lord when it’s a message that leads us to do something good, even sacred – a message that leads us to make our world a better place.  “Speak, Lord – your servant is listening.”

The Lord’s message may be rather simple – then again there may be something more challenging – more meaningful. 

This is all about vocation – each of us – all of us – are being called to listen to the Lord.

The Lord calls us all to a vocation – each of us – all of us – are being called to listen to the Lord, to recognize our vocation for we are all called to a vocation.

Many find their vocation in marriage, others in the single life each filled with their challenging message from the Lord.  Our faith gives us the wisdom to recognize the Lord’s message, the message that will fill each vocation with the readiness to bring God’s love as called by the Lord.

Each of us have been blessed with many wonderful talents, abilities that the Lord gives us that help us hear the Lord – recognize God’s message – live out our vocation. 

Let me take a moment here to remind you that many of you are called to be a religious – a priest or a Sister.  The Lord continues to call many and many are needed.  Yet, despite the fact that there are too few priests, I believe that the Lord continues to call. The message is being brought to many, many who will bring new life and new spirit to our Church.

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