Speak Lord, I am listening

The holiday season is behind us and we are quickly reminded that the gloom of winter is in much need of welcoming light and warmth. Yet it is in the silence of winter that we are invited to listen, to hear, and to recognize the voice of God. 

Winter is an austere reminder of what we dislike most in our lives. The long cold days, the frozen tundra, and the feeling of isolation as visitors become limited due to weather and temperatures. Yet, the readings this weekend offer promise and hope, a way out of our desolate lives and frozen existences. 

The first reading gives us Samuel, a young man who was learning all he could from Eli, who heard a voice calling, and with help, was able to understand its meaning. In the Gospel, John’s Apostles heard his comment, “Behold the Lamb of God,” and quickly heeded the message, approaching Jesus and following Him. 

Like Samuel and John’s Apostles, we too, are being asked to listen, to hear and to take heed of the messages. When we look out our windows at the snow-covered terrain, lets us remember that so much promise lies beneath that white veil. There is life waiting to sprout forth, green grass and flowers lie dormant waiting to adorn pastures and fields. Waiting on the warmth of the sun to awaken them, making them whole and new again. 

We, too, are like the winter landscape, with something within us that also longs for the warmth of the Son, and a deeper awakening. We, too, are listening and searching for what can make us feel whole and alive. It took Samuel and Eli to figure out that God was the One calling and stirring Samuel into action. It was John who helped the Apostles recognize the Messiah, prompting them to follow Jesus. 

For many of us, it takes the nudging of others to help us discern our paths, and give us clarity and direction. For myself — retreats, days of reflections and Spiritual advisors to name a few, have helped me along my life’s journey. In all circumstances, I have found the hand of God stirring in my life, and in all that I have done and accomplished. But to say that I recognized God’s handiwork in every turn would be a lie, often it was the Eli’s and John’s in my life who helped me to hear and see more clearly.  They were my guides helping me recognize the voice of God and the presence of the Messiah in my life.  

We are all students and searchers, straining to hear the words that can change us, and seeking the truth that can bring us closer to God. In the Gospel, Jesus’ asks the Apostles, “What are you looking for?” A question that was not only true for those followers then, but stands true for us today. What is it that we feel stirring inside, what voice do we long to hear, what pulls at our hearts? Jesus is calling us, asking us to follow, to be the change in our troubled world. We yearn for peace, for love, for compassion and truth. We want these things for ourselves, our families and for the world. 

Back in 2000, there was a movie, “Pay It Forward,” in which Trevor (Haley Joel Osment), a young boy affects change in his world with simple acts of kindness. But rather than repaying the person who did him a kindness, he prompts others to do something kind for another person in response. His actions created a chain reaction that went way beyond his school and community.  He heeded the words of his teacher, and impacted a change.

In the reading and the Gospel, we are being reminded that God works within us and through us to exact change in our world, to improve upon the human condition, and to be catalysts for justice and all it represents. We, like Samuel and the Apostles, are asked to trust, to believe and to follow the stirrings of our hearts. We are asked to be disciples, to learn to live with open hearts and minds, open to the promptings of God and all that comes from His Divine love. To be ready and willing to do the work of the Lord, helping others to hear, understand, and find what they are looking for. We live in a world that is searching for good, longing to believe, a world hungry for the change, and searching for the truth and knowledge that we are all deserving children of God. A change that can come about, when we ourselves begin to change in positive, loving ways, recognizing that we carry within the warmth of the Son. 

When we allow this light and warmth to radiate from within, we can begin to break through the frozen tundra that has enveloped so many around us. The world needs those who are willing to be like Samuel, inviting God into our lives, by repeating his words, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 

Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva is Events Coordinator and Bereavement Ministry for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. 


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