Making It Possible to Answer God’s Call

Anxious Girl Praying the Rosary(1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20; Psalm 40:2 and 5, 7-8A, 8B-9, 10; Mark 1:29-39)

Today’s first reading from the First Book of Samuel is arguably one of the most famous stories from the book, with God calling to Samuel three times before Eli understands what’s going on. Most of the times I’ve heard about this story, it’s been in the context of how we should be open to God’s call and keep our minds and hearts open to the possibility that God is trying to get our attention. That’s great advice! If you’re doing that, keep doing that . . . and if you’re not, think about what you can do to keep yourself open to God acting in your life. However, there’s another angle that I never really considered until I reflected upon this passage with fresh eyes.

Look how important Eli is to this story. Eli was the priest of Shiloh with whom Samuel was receiving training as a child. Eli is the one who put the pieces together for Samuel, who made it possible for Samuel to respond to the Lord.

I think many of us express an openness and willingness to keep our hearts and minds open to God. But are we at least as willing to be a part of God’s plans if we aren’t the focal characters? Are we humble enough to use our lives to make it possible for others to do the Lord’s will?

I see echoes of this theme reverberating in today’s Gospel selection from Mark. In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus cures Simon’s mother-in-law; however, before that could happen, Jesus’ disciples told him about her.

More interestingly (for me) is the second part: “When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.”

Notice that first sentence: They brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. Again, like Eli, they needed to do the Lord’s work to bring God’s presence to others.

His disciples are not central to this story. I suspect many people, if they think about this passage, think of it in terms of the miracle that Jesus performed: He cured the sick and cast out demons. And that’s as it should be! But the disciples, though acting nearly invisibly, did their part to help bring about these miracles.

Look at today’s Responsorial Psalm! “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” Let that be in our hearts and minds as we try to discern our own place in God’s plans. And it’s possible that our place is merely in helping someone else have the resources, training, skills, or motivation to further God’s plans.

Perhaps our place is not in religious life ourselves, but to be open and encouraging for our children to be involved in religious life. Perhaps our calling is not in tending the sick, but in teaching and honing those who would help the sick. Perhaps we are not called to defend the Word with heartfelt passion, but to encourage and support those who do defend the Word.

When we encounter Sacred Scripture, it’s common to place ourselves in the position of those central to the story: “Let me open my heart and ears like Samuel.” or “Let me be cured and healed as Jesus cured and healed others.” However, we should also keep ourselves open to the possibility that we are not the most important “character” in our own stories.

Of course, we’re all important in the eyes of God, but sometimes we can’t see what we do to enables others to do God’s will . . . or sometimes we refrain from action because it doesn’t seem important or direct enough in God’s plans. Perhaps it is! Let your hearts and minds be open to the possibility that your place is in helping someone else answer the Lord’s call, or in helping to bring others – physically, mentally, or spiritually – to a place where someone else can do God’s will. I’ve never given much thought to Eli before now; my heart has always been with Samuel. But if my place is to help someone else figure out the Lord’s call, then I pray I have the sense of mind and strength of heart to do His will . . . even if it means I’ll be mostly forgotten.

About the Author

Despite being a professional writer and editor for over 15 years, Steven Marsh is more-or-less winging it when it comes to writing about matters of faith. Steven entered the church in 2005, and since then he's been involved with various ministries, including Pre-Cana marriage prep for engaged couples, religious education for kindergarteners, and Stephen Ministry's one-on-one caregiving. Steven lives in Indiana with his wife and son. Despite having read the entirety of the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he's still surprised at elements he rediscovers or reflects upon in new ways. The more Steven learns about the faith, the less he feels he knows; he's keen to emphasize that any mistakes are his own.

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  1. Thank you so very much. Praise God! What a profound and a deep & heart provoking reflections of the Words for today! Honestly it soothes inner in me!

    Thank you, you awaken our very senses. Taking part to do His miracles, to do His calling for others- as just simply helping others for a miracle and calling to happen; being just out of the limelight.

    Please never get tired of writing beautiful insights of the scriptures, you have helped a lot understand the messages.

    God bless!

  2. I love the truth that we are not the central character even in our own stories….He must increase we must decrease. Thank you.

  3. The Holy Spirit led me to you today. I write a reflection every five weeks for a Cursillo ministry. I agonize over it every time and today when I sat down to do it, and prayed first, I was whining to God about not being very good at this. But I know from time to time someone will tell me they connected with what I wrote. So as I worked my way through all these thoughts I recognized that sometimes you might only reach one person but that this is the ministry the Spirit too.
    Your reflection I was also drawn to by Spirit today. Thanks for reminding me to be humble and happy just to be a small part of the story of salvation.

  4. I have read the calling of Samuel many times but never looked at it like today.The gospel as well.
    Reminds us that we are all instruments in bringing people to God like Eli telling Samuel what to answer and the disciples told Jesus about Simon’s mother in law. People brought the sick to Jesus. In all cases somebody somewhere did something. Things didn’t just happen!
    We are called to be the ones to make things happens. Thank you for reminding us how to live our calling, that of bringing people to God by doing just the ordinary things of life.

  5. Thank you for the new perspective. Taking the behind the scenes role requires humility which is a vital aspect of our faith journey. God Bless.

  6. This was a short reflection but a powerful message.Some of us sew and others reap and we may never know the miracle. It also reminds me of how much we are all part of the Body of Christ. Wonderful reflection I will be thinking of this all week.

  7. Thank you for sharing this fresh perspective. It has shed new light on my own personal circumstances …… today YOU were God’s instrument!

  8. Thank you everyone for your words of wisdom – the readings, reflections and comments help me better understand. Also, liked the line where we can bring people closer to God by just doing the ordinary things in life!

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