One of my greatest complaints is that I do not hear the voice of the Lord. Seeing how naturally God’s voice came to Samuel makes me feel jeal¬ous. To me, one of the goals of writing this reflec¬tion is to see if I can get any tips from Samuel.
First, I discover that Samuel was sleeping near the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark carried the presence of God. When Moses and Joshua would go into the Tent of Meeting and worship before the Ark of the Covenant, the Glory of the Lord would come and rest upon the Ark. So, I get my first tip. I must be in the presence of God to hear his voice. One of the greatest advantages that we Catholics have over our Protestant brethren is the Blessed Sacrament, where our five senses can reinforce the experience of coming into the presence of God. We should not waste the opportunity God has given us, Samuel was neither praying nor doing anything remotely religious before the Ark; He was just sleeping. Our minds are often preoccupied with many things. It may be that the Lord must wait until we get out of the way for Him to speak to us. So, I get my second tip. I must find rest in His presence before I can hear His voice. If I come to him only when I am in the midst of a raging storm, chances are that I will not hear him.
The first reading goes on to tell us that Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. As a result, Samuel gets confused and thinks that Eli was speaking to him. This tells me that I need to have some practice hearing the voice of the Lord, if not I can get the voice of the Lord confused with the other voices that are bombarding me. Not only should I come to Him to listen when I am in crisis, but I must come to Him in good times so that I get accustomed to hearing His voice. While God initiated the dialogue with Samuel, there was something Samuel had to do before he could continue to hear the voice of the Lord. To move on he needed the counsel of one who is familiar with hearing the voice of the Lord; Eli. Actually, Samuel got it wrong the first time when he thought that it was Eli who was calling him. It was the discernment of Eli that put him on the right track. It shows just how important it is for us to come under the guidance and discernment of one who is accustomed to hearing the voice of the Lord to grow in hearing the voice of the Lord. The words ending the reading sum up the extent to which Samuel grew: The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.In today’s Gospel proclamation we meet another man who is ac¬customed to hearing the voice of the Lord. He is St. John the Baptist. It was because he heard the voice of God that he was able to know that his cousin was none other than the Son of God.
In today’s reading his counsel leads two of his disciples to our Lord Jesus. The presence that was on the Ark of the covenant was now upon our Lord Jesus and the glory of God rests upon Him. Just like how Samuel spent time in the presence, the two disciples get the opportunity to spend time in the living presence of God. By their testimony, St. Peter comes to the Lord.
Simon son of John embarks on a journey towards a new identity and heritage; Cephas, the rock on which the kingdom of God will be built.In today’s second reading St. Paul reveals to us that the purpose of our bodies is neither to receive pleasure nor give pleasure. Its main purpose is to carry the presence of God. They are to be an extension of the Body of our Lord Jesus so that the presence that was upon our Lord Jesus will be upon us, and we carry His presence with us.
What a wonderful thing it would be if we were a gateway to heaven wher¬ever we went! Sounds improbable or impossible? St. Paul reminds us God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. He goes on to say Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.Simon son of John did not become Cephas overnight. It was a journey of a lifetime, with many falls and many returns to the Lord. So it will be with us. We keep on coming back to His presence. We keep on hearing His voice, and we pray today’s responsorial psalm: Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Prayer: Abba Father, Lead me to the place of encounter so that I may find rest in you and hear your voice. Here I am Lord, I come to carry your presence, so that through my testimony, others will encounter you just like St. Peter did. Amen