Wednesday January 16, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week on Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20) Gospel (St. Mark 1:29-39)
In the two readings today, we hear about the revelation of God to His people. In the first reading, of course, it is the revelation of God to one person, to Samuel. But as Samuel got older, we are told in the reading that he became known as an accredited prophet of the Lord from Dan to Beersheba, which is the farthest north to the farthest south point of Israel. The whole of the people of Israel came to recognize that there was indeed a prophet in the land, that God was with His people. Then with Our Lord, we hear how He healed Saint Peter's mother-in-law and then the whole town was gathered at the door.
We see the way that God works: He takes Samuel and He speaks with Him alone. As we will see, He sends Samuel out and Samuel has to proclaim God's word to the people. Yet what Samuel needed to do for himself was to make sure that he was deep in prayer, that he was spending the time alone with the Lord, and when the Lord wanted him to go out and preach, that is when he did.
Then we see Jesus: When all the people are looking for Him, the Lord is off by Himself in a lonely place and He is deep in prayer. Rather than coming back into Capernaum, where all the people would now think Him to be something of a hero, instead, He wants to go to other towns to preach the Good News. It was not the Will of God that He would be acclaimed in such ways or that He would be seeking anything on the human level; but rather, it was the Will of His Father that He was to preach in other places and that He was to be alone in prayer.
For each one of us, then, we see the pattern. It is the same for us. While we may not be called to the complete prophetic vocation as Samuel was, nonetheless, each one of us is a prophet - a priest, a prophet, and a king - through Baptism. And so, each one of us is called to do this same kind of work; we are called to do the Will of God, no matter what it is. It will be enticing for us to seek the human-level comforts, but that may not be what God is asking of us. It may be enticing for us to want the acclaim of a crowd or whatever it might be; but that, too, is probably not what God is asking. What each one of us needs to do is learn the pattern from Samuel as well as from Our Lord. We are to be deep in prayer, and it is only when God wants us to do something that we must be obedient and we must do it.
We have to learn from Samuel. Look at the obedience of this child: As soon as he hears the voice, he is up in the middle of the night and he runs to Eli. When Eli tells him, "Just simply say, 'Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening'," that is exactly what he did. Each of us needs to learn that same thing: absolute obedience to the Will of God. That was the way that Our Lord worked; of course, He is God so He was obedient to His own Will, but nonetheless, it is the way that is laid out for us.
So it is, first of all, to be alone in prayer with God. Secondly, to seek the Will of God. And thirdly, to do the Will of God - even if it does not seem to make much sense, even if on the human level we would be drawn to what is more human or will gain us greater acclaim. God may be asking us for something entirely different and we need to do what God wants. But we will not know what God wants unless we are alone with Him in prayer. And so, it is to find that place to be all alone, just one-on-one with God, and to seek His Will. That is what each one of us must do. That is the call which is ours in Baptism so that, like Samuel, we can say, "Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening," and when we hear what God wants of us, then we go out and we do it in that absolute obedience. If we can learn to listen and to obey, then we will be able to fulfill that prophetic vocation to which each of us is called in Baptism: to hear the Word of God and to do it.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.