Daily Reflection
January 12th, 2000
Fr. Richard Gabuzda
University College
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1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20
Psalms 40:2-5, 7-10
Mark 1:29-39

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

We can probably all tell stories, drawn from everyday life, that illustrate the importance of listening in the process of human communication.  Comic strips and comedians regularly portray married couples failing to really hear each other.   Preachers and professors are often amazed when reports of “what I heard you say” come across in conversations and on exam papers.

Hearing what God is saying to us is also a matter of listening to what is being said.  A fundamental presupposition of Christian prayer is that God wants to say, is saying, much.  The question remains:  what are we hearing?  Are we really listening?

The scriptures today provide two practical lessons for those of us seeking to listen to the living God.  Today’s account of Samuel’s call by God portrays a man struggling to listen, who can’t recognize the divine source of what he hears.  Eli comes to Samuel’s help by suggesting that God is speaking and helps Samuel “tune in” to that voice. 

Lesson #1:  We often need assistance from others to help us “tune in” to the voice of God.  It may be informal conversations, more formal sessions with spiritual directors, or simply the input from personal reading (especially the Scriptures) or homilies—an outside voice often helps us hear the “inside voice” of God. 

The dramatic healings performed one evening by Jesus as recorded in a few verses of the gospel only serve to highlight the drama of his “activity” early the next morning.  The gospel says that Jesus “went off to a lonely place in the desert; there he was absorbed in prayer.”  Jesus withdraws briefly, right in the midst of activity, in order to listen.

Lesson #2:  To truly listen to the voice of God, time dedicated to listening, away from the normal pace of life is essential.  It may be as simple as a walk around the block in the evening, a stop into a nearby church or chapel, or even a lengthier period of “time away” such as a retreat. 

Want to hear God more clearly?  Are we ready to truly listen?  Are we willing to listen with the help of another?  What amount of “dedicated” listening time do we allow ourselves in a day, a week, a year?

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