We may think our relationship to God is something just between the two of us, but it isn’t. Others help us on our way to God. So, in this Sunday’s gospel John the Baptist tells some of his disciples to follow Jesus and in that same reading, Andrew brings his brother Simon to the Lord. More than we know, we’re led to God by others and we lead others to God too.
We go to God together. Another way of saying it is that we belong to one body, a church. We’re not lonely believers. We know and are called to God together.
Our first reading from the Book of Samuel is about the young boy Samuel whom God has chosen for a special mission among the Israelites. His mother is the first to sense this, and she sends him to the temple where she hopes the priests there will help him understand what his calling is. Parents are the first guides for their children; they know them and they’re their most important teachers.
Young Samuel hears God calling in the night but it’s a very indistinct call; he’s a young boy and he doesn’t know what to make of it. The old priest Eli doesn’t help much at first. He tells the young man there’ s no one calling, go back to sleep.
Finally, the old man recognizes that God’s calling the young boy. You wonder if this isn’t an early example of “the generation gap,’ someone from an older generation not understanding someone from a younger generation? The story is not just about a young boy finding what God wants him to do; it’s also about someone from an older generation helping him find out. What was the old priest thinking? Was he too concerned with himself perhaps and couldn’t be bothered with this young boy? Or had he lost hope in the youth of his day?
After awhile, the old priest gives Samuel the right advice: “Go to sleep, and if you are called say ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’”
Very wise advice. The old priest is telling him, first of all, believe that God speaks to you. Believe, even in the night. Listen humbly like a servant. Don’t let your own ideas intrude. Be a listener; hear what God wants to tell you. Pray.
We published a little prayer some years ago “Be With Me Today, O Lord” asking for God’s guidance each day. There’s an elderly man from California who calls me every few months asking for copies of the prayer which he distributes in schools and churches in his area. I’m reminded of him and the prayer as we listen to the story of Samuel.
Be with me today, O Lord,
May all I do today begin with you, O Lord.
Plant dreams and hopes within my soul, revive my tired spirit, be with me today.
May all I do today continue with your help, O Lord.
Be at my side and walk with me. Be my support today.
May all I do today reach far and wide, O Lord.
My thoughts, my work, my life: Make them blessings for your kingdom;
Let them go beyond today.
Today is new, unlike any other day, for God makes each day different.
Today God’s everyday grace falls on my soul like abundant seed,
Though I may hardly see it.
Today is one of those days Jesus promised to be with me, a companion on my journey.
And my life today, if I trust him, has consequences.
My life has a purpose…
“ I have a mission…I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. God has not created me for naught…Therefore I will trust him. What ever, where ever I am, I can never be thrown away. God does nothing in vain. He knows what he is about.” (John Henry Newman)