January 15, 2012
1 Samuel 3:3b-10; 19
Either God is real or God is not. Either God cares or God doesn’t. But this much is clear: if God is real and God cares, God will ask things of us. God will call us to do things that are a part of the Divine plan. Now those of you who have been following me so far might be thinking to yourselves, “I know where he’s going to go with this homily—he is going to remind us that God calls us to serve, and that we should be ready to respond.” And those of you who are high achievers might have even gone further and come to the conclusion, “That is a good idea. I should keep my ears and eyes open in case God calls me, so that I will be ready to say yes.”
Now these thoughts could be used for a very good homily. But they are not the point of this one. Today, I do not intend to encourage you to be ready in case God calls you. Today I want to suggest that it is possible that God has already called you, but you have not noticed. This suggestion flows from today’s first reading, the call of the prophet Samuel. God keeps calling Samuel but he does not understand. He thinks it is Eli who is calling him. God calls a second and a third time. Yet Samuel keeps missing the divine invitation.
The scriptures are suggesting that we may be in the very position of Samuel. God is calling us and perhaps has been calling us for some time, but we have been hearing that call as another voice. If this is the case, then the focus of this homily is not how to get ready in case God should call us but how we might find signs in our life that God has already called us. What might such signs be? What indications might we find in our own life that reveal that God has been calling us, but we have missed the invitation?
Another aspect of today’s first reading can help. When God calls and Samuel does not hear, God does not give up. God calls again and again, creating a repetitious pattern in Samuel’s life. This suggests to us that we should try to identify patterns in our lives which keep repeating. They could be signs that God is trying to get our attention.
When you look over the last number of weeks or months, perhaps a certain person keeps coming to mind. It could be someone who you love, or somebody with whom you had a disagreement. When you recognize this pattern, you might say “Isn’t it strange, that I keep thinking of that person? It probably isn’t significant.” You dismiss it. But perhaps you should not dismiss it. Perhaps that repeating pattern is a call of God for you to contact someone to express gratitude or to ask for forgiveness.
Perhaps, over the last number of weeks or months, there have been a number of times when you thought you were unhappy in your marriage or when you worried about one of your children. You may have dismissed the thoughts are random. But what if they were not. What if they were God calling you to address the issues in your marriage or help in the life of a son or daughter?
Perhaps repeatedly you have felt afraid. You have not been feeling right. You have begun to fear what will happen as you grow old. You may have said, “These thoughts keep coming to me. It seems silly to worry over them.” But perhaps they are not thoughts to worry over but to listen to. What if God is asking you to call your doctor or begin to cope with your advancing age?
Because God is real and loves us, God does call us to act. But there is no guarantee that we will recognize that call at once. That is why, when we become serious about being disciples, the first thing we should do is look for patterns in our lives. When things keep repeating, we should not dismiss them. Of course, it is possible that a repeating pattern is just a fluke or arbitrary occurrence. But it is also possible that it carries a much deeper significance. A repeating pattern could be the voice of God.