January 17, 2021
The young Samuel discovers that the Lord wants to speak to him. God wants to speak to you, too. But we need to listen. How?
- We live in times of corruption, conflict, change and confusion, but it is important for us to understand ‘how’ we are to live in these times.
- God can guide you by communicating through various means, such as through other people, nature, events and circumstances, our thoughts and locutions.
- We can learn to listen to God by setting aside time with the Lord, avoid distractions and become recollected, seek His will and journal when you sense God is speaking to you.
- There is value and graces when we attempt to listen to God.
- The act of listening to God and discerning His will, involves powerful spiritual nutrients such as humility, trust, obedience and love.
- We can ask Mary, who listened and obeyed, to help us to take the time and guide us to hear His word.
There is a passage in the first reading today, which seems to be especially important when we are living in times of a lot of corruption, conflict, confusion and times which are critical for our future. What are we supposed to do right now? The Holy Spirit gives us a key in this first reading. It is young Samuel who is living at a time where there is a lot of corruption. Late in the middle of the night, he hears someone calling his name. He doesn’t know what this is, but the key passage to remember is what the response was, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”.
God speaks to us in many ways, such as through scripture, through the Church, through other people, through nature, and through events and circumstances in our life. But are we listening? Father gives four tips on how to listen to God – take time, be in silence and recollection, seek God’s will and write it down.
There’s a passage in the first reading today, which seems to be especially important, when we’re living in times of a lot of corruption, a lot of conflict and a lot is changing. When there’s a lot of confusion, it’s not easy to understand what’s going on and what is true and what is not true, times which are critical for our future. Like I think the times we are living right now. So it’s very important for us to have been called to live these times and to understand how are we supposed to live in this time. What are we supposed to do right now? I think that the Holy Spirit gives us a key in this first reading. It’s young Samuel who is an adolescent still. He’s living at a time where there’s a lot of corruption, and in fact in the temple in the priesthood, there’s a lot of corruption. In fact, that’s one of his first missions. But late in the middle of the night, he hears someone calling his name. He doesn’t know what this is, he asks the high priest, and the high priest doesn’t know. But this happened several times. And finally, the high priest realizes (sometimes it takes us a while to realize) but he tells him how to respond. I think that’s the key passage to remember what the response was. “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Have you ever had the experience of not being listened to, dealing with people who don’t listen to you very well? You can’t really get a word in edgewise. I think we’ve all had that experience. How do you feel, when that’s happening? Especially when it’s important, especially when you care about the other person. Do you think God has ever had that experience with you? Loving you, wanting to share something with you and you’re not listening. So this is an opportunity today to ask ourselves, “am I listening to God?” But sometimes people say, “Well, God doesn’t speak to me, I’m just an ordinary person. God doesn’t really speak to me.” But if we begin to realize all the many ways that God speaks, we’ll realize that God is always speaking to us. This is a topic that we speak a lot about in our encounter with Jesus retreats, but now we’re not able to give those retreats right now. So, the Holy Spirit gives us a key in this first reading. It’s young Samuel who is an adolescent still. He’s living at a time where there’s a lot of corruption, and in fact in the temple in the priesthood, there’s a lot of corruption. In fact, that’s one of his first missions. But late in the middle of the night, he hears someone calling his name. He doesn’t know what this is, he asks the high priest, and the high priest doesn’t know. But this happened several times. And finally, the high priest realizes (sometimes it takes us a while to realize) but he tells him how to respond. I think that’s the key passage to remember what the response was. “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”, maybe people that we know that we’re encountering. I was thinking of an example, in my own life. A number of years ago, I was serving in a Mission in Nuevo Laredo. As a young priest, I was very enthusiastic about this Mission. The people I was working with in the ministry were doing something that I was throwing myself into. But as the year went by, I began sensing, like something in me was kind of pulling me back and was wearing me out. I really was so worn out. I asked for permission to make a retreat, to try to understand what the Lord was telling me in this situation. I made a five-day retreat and discussed that with the priest who was there. At the end of the retreat, after all this time, I still didn’t know what the Lord was trying to tell me. I remember taking the plane back from that retreat, coming back to Laredo, and thinking on the plane, while I made this whole retreat, it’s not easy to get permission to do that. I made this whole retreat and I still don’t have a clear sense of what the Lord is trying to tell me. When I arrived there, and my superior came to pick me up at the airport, there at the baggage claim. He said, oh, you know, while you were gone, we got a call from France, where our mother house was, and he said, they were asking whether you could come back and spend a year at as the guest master at the motherhouse. There, I mean, at the novitiate., our house our community that I used to belong to, the brothers of St. John, had a number of houses at that point. If you had asked me which one I wanted to go to what I would have said is, Well, I don’t know. But I know the one I don’t want to go to – this one. I really don’t want to go to – guess which one – it was that one I was being called to. So I said, Oh, I said, and they weren’t, they weren’t ordering me to do this, they were asking me, so I had to make a decision. I thought, Lord, this is probably not a coincidence, that the place I don’t want to go to is where you’re asking me to go. So, I said yes. I thought, well, I guess you know, I guess the Lord is speaking to me, not by retreat, but at the baggage claim, through my superior. And then it became apparent when I did go to France a few months later, why. Because the elderly priest who had been like a spiritual father to me suddenly had a stroke and got very sick. They needed to find a place, and It was difficult to find a place for him to be. Because I was there, they were able to receive him at that house. And in fact, that’s the house where he ended his life a little while later. He died a little while later. It seemed like there was a reason that the Lord had done something that I couldn’t understand at the time, that only became apparent later. So God can speak also through other people. God can also speak to us through nature. And that’s one of the experiences we have a lot here at the mission. Right now, we’re out in nature on this beautiful day. So many times, we hear people saying how much they sense God’s presence, just coming out because of the beautiful, natural setting that we have here. That’s one of the powerful ways that God speaks through nature. God can also speak through events and circumstances in our life. So many times what the Lord permits to happen is we can understand that he’s speaking to us. In fact, that we’re here right now at this little mission in the hill country, it wasn’t that the Mission of Divine Mercy heard God saying go, I have a little spot for you and the Hill country. It was gradually a whole set of circumstances and like the welcome that we got at St. Peter and Paul, New Braunfels, and so forth and our friend Pat Fox, looking for a cent in a call to look in the hill country. A whole set of different circumstances which led us here, and which we felt God was speaking to us through those circumstances. God can also speak to us interiorly, through the different thoughts, and deep desires or perceptions; things he places on our heart. I know for my own vocation; it wasn’t so much that they’re just one moment. But it’s oftentimes something kind of gradually. Slowly, I was beginning to perceive it becoming more, more, more and more clear, but it happened over a period and happened in stages. Another way that God can speak to us interiorly is an example like we see here, precisely with Samuel, they are what’s called locutions. Interior exterior locutions are which a person perceives whether with their ears or simply interiorly, clear words from the Lord. And again, Samuels an example, but there’s many examples in the history of the church. Like Saint Faustina, whose revelations are so important for this little mission. She received many interior and exterior messages from the Lord. Or St. Catherine of Sienna, and her dialogues, and many more. So, God can speak in many different ways. And God’s speaking, even God speaking interiorly, even God speaking, these clear, interior messages, it’s, I think, much more common than many people realize. Because God can do whatever he wants, whenever and with whomever he wants, He doesn’t have to ask any permission. So God is always, always speaking, always communicating with us because He loves us. And of course, there’s a need for prudence and discernment, because we have to make sure that it’s from God and not from just ourselves or even from an evil spirit. But this word the same as “Speak Lord, your service listening.” I think he’s telling us today especially in this time in our in our country’s history. Practically speaking, how can we listen to God? And so I want to give four tips that anybody can do to listen to God. So, the first tip is to take time. Just like in any relationship, like in a marriage or friendship, we need to take time with the other person. If we don’t take time, it’s very hard for that relationship to develop. So setting aside time with the Lord. And then also having in that time, a little bit of silence and recollection. We talked a couple of weeks ago about how we can do this in a family. And Jesus said to Saint Faustina or I think this was actually from St. Faustina, “If only souls would become recollected, God would speak to them at once.” So, what she’s saying, what the Lord is saying to her is that this is not something rare. This is something that God wants to do with souls. But, he says, but dissipation drowns out the word of the Lord. And so that’s why the devil tries in so many ways to keep us distracted, so that we can’t hear what the Lord is telling us. And one time the Lord said to Saint Faustina, “strive for a life of recollection, so that you can hear my voice, which is so soft that only recollected souls can hear.” Sometimes God yells, but most of the time God prefers to whisper. We need to be quiet and recollected. And that’s why a natural setting like this is helpful. So that’s the second thing, taking some quiet recollection, time. And then the third thing is, what are we seeking during that time, to seek His will. And that’s the key, to seek His will. And then a fourth thing, a fourth practical thing we can do, is to write down when we sense God is speaking to us, it can often be helpful to write it down. And even to go back over your life and think, write down the ways that God has been speaking to you through your life. And again, we might think what the Lord doesn’t speak to me. But if you look at all these different ways that He’s speaking, oftentimes, He’s been speaking to us. But we weren’t realizing He was speaking to us, or we weren’t paying attention. So, writing it down is a way that helps us to become more conscious, and sometimes remember. Oh, yeah, that’s right, that was happening. I forgot that way back then, that the Lord told me that. And so later on, we can go back and write it down. If you’re not sure, I don’t know if that was the Lord or not, go ahead and write it down. A lot of times, the fact of writing it down, helps to clarify it. And maybe not, if it’s not right away, there’ll be little by little. So taking time, making some silence, seeking His will, and fourth, writing it down. So there’s a value, even if you struggle to listen to God, we all struggle to listen to God. But there’s a value in just trying to do it. Just trying to do it brings graces. I’ve often shared an example from my own life. This was way back when I was a freshman in college. And I had sensed already for a while that the Lord is calling me to be a priest, but I wasn’t in any hurry to respond. And so I thought, well, I want to enjoy my four years of college, and then we’ll think about looking for a seminary or something. But during my freshman year, I met some people from the Opus Dei organization and they began inviting me they like to join their organization as a vocation. And I didn’t think that that’s what the Lord was calling me to, but they were very insistent. And so, I kind of felt like I need to know what to tell them. So over the Christmas break, I was praying about it and my motives weren’t very exalted. I basically just wanted to get them off my back. So it was I needed an answer so I asked the Lord, well, what do you want me to do? And I didn’t get an immediate answer. But it was gradually, especially it was actually several months later, that an event happened a life changing event with our Blessed Mother. I think that the fact that I was asking that question, even if my motivation was not that great, but just the fact I was asking a question was like opening the door for the Lord, giving him an opportunity. It wasn’t right away, because oftentimes, we don’t hear the response right away. But it’s little by little later on, that a response came that really changed completely, my life. Because just the fact of asking the Lord, just like that little prayer, “speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” Why is that? You know, there are certain foods which are very healthy to eat. And yet the experts say, well, this food is very healthy, because it has all these ingredients, which are very good for you. Well, this is an act, which is very healthy for our spiritual life. And I want to tell you some of the ingredients in this act of the simple act of listening to the Lord. It’s an act of humility. Because we’re saying, Lord, I don’t know the answer. That’s a great act of humility. It’s also an act of trust, because we’re saying, Lord, I trust you. I know you’re the one who knows, and you love me, and you want what’s best for me. So, it’s an act of trust. And it’s also an act of obedience, because we’re seeking not to do my will, but to do His will. And it’s an act of love. As Jesus says that if we love God, we will seek to do His will. So those are all these powerful nutrients, spiritual nutrients, which are in the simple act of seeking the Lord’s will. Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening. Speak, Lord, Your servant is finally listening. Lord, you have a short, you have a small window of opportunity. Hurry up and speak. Because I can’t keep this up too long, right? It’s not always easy to listen to the Lord. The distractions come about two minutes later. But that’s okay. The important thing is that we’re trying to listen to him. And so today with Samuel, who was very young, when he heard the Lord’s word, and remembering another young person, a young woman, Mary of Nazareth, who also was alone, one day, when a mysterious message came to her from the Lord, we asked her to help us to take time, especially with all that’s going on right now, when there’s a lot of confusion. There’s a lot of discouragement. And there’s a lot of anger and a lot of frustration. It’s important in these critical times, that we know what to do. And so we need to ask the Lord and maybe to take time, and again, not to hesitate to write down as a way of making it more concrete and in fact even during this mass. That’s why it’s helpful to have some quiet times during the mass. We can even right now, right after this homily, we can ask the Lord, we can say to Lord, speak, Lord, Your servant is listening. Amen.