The first reading for this week is one of my absolute favorites – the calling of Samuel. I have a special, incredible story regarding this scripture passage and my family. I will put it at the bottom of this post.
In the second reading, we are told quite clearly that we are not our own. We are instructed on the dignity of our bodies which house the Holy Spirit of God. Do we sometimes forget that we have been purchased at a great price by Christ our Savior? Do we show gratitude for that great gift by caring for our bodies, making them a suitable place for the Spirit to dwell? There are so many ways that we harm our bodies or adorn them in a way that is not suitable for Our Lord in 2015. I’m thinking pagan tatooing, body piercing, gluttony, unnecessary plastic surgery, taking birth control pills, shots or patches, severing our reproductive organs, dressing immodestly, sexual sin…
Think about the words St. Paul leaves us with, “Therefore Glorify God in your bodies.”
I just love the exchange in today’s gospel. Jesus is walking down the road. John says out loud, “Behold the Lamb of God.” The disciples ears perk up, they begin following the Messiah and ask Him where He is staying. Jesus invites them to come and see. I can just really relate to the curiosity of the disciples and the need they felt to be where He was. To spend the day with Jesus in private – How awesome that must have been! Whenever I meditate upon the Glorious mysteries, and I picture myself at the Ascension, I always feel as though I want to hang onto the edge of Jesus tunic/foot so that He cannot leave, disappearing into the clouds.
Now for a part of the Samuel story – a chapter from God Messaging…(published in 2011)
What I’m about to relate to you is by far one of the most bizarre things that has ever happened to me. If there was some significance to the events, I am still unsure. Perhaps, one day, I will come to know the meaning behind them. For now, I just take them as a reminder that God is with us. If we become too distracted or stressed, and forget to lean on him, he will go to great lengths to get our attention.
Last year, when Eric was unemployed, we were certainly experiencing trying times. It was over the course of this few month period that our doorbell began to ring at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. It didn’t happen every weekend, but when it did occur, it was always at the same time – give or take a couple of minutes – and on the same morning of the week. I remember the first time that it happened. Eric and I were sleeping in different rooms of the house because of snoring and restless sleep. Jolted upright by the shock of the chiming bell, I sat in bed and listened, my heart pounding wildly in my chest. I didn’t hear any stirring within the house, so I figured that it must have been a dream. Still uncertain, I got out of bed and shuffled to the den to affirm my suspicion that I had imagined the bell in my sleep. To my surprise, Eric had also been awakened by the doorbell chime, and was already poised in the window, looking toward our front porch and then out to the street. We each took a window beside the front door and cautiously peered through a small slit in the curtain to survey the neighborhood for movement. There was no one at our door and no one in sight! Puzzled, we went back to bed, and slept through till morning.
At breakfast, we discussed the early morning surprise, and pondered possible explanations. We came to the conclusion that it had to have been a swift teenager, who was roving the streets, ringing doorbells for entertainment. Perhaps there had been a slumber party around the block.
We didn’t think anymore about the doorbell, until it happened again a couple of weeks later. Just as had happened before, the bell rung at approximately 1:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. My husband and I were in the same room this time. We ran quickly to the door together, hoping to catch a kid who would be trying to flee unnoticed. When we arrived at the door, there was no one there. This time, Eric went outside to get a better look. Nothing seemed suspicious. There was no movement but the swaying of trees in the wind. After he came back inside, we hid behind the curtains in the foyer for several minutes, thinking that if a person were in hiding, he or she would have to come out sometime. No luck! We retired to the bedroom once again, annoyed and wondering.
There was a break in the action for a couple of weeks. Then it happened again, the same as before. This time, Eric and I realized that when the bell would ring, our children’s sleep never seemed to be disturbed. Stranger still, our dog never barked. Both of us were hearing the doorbell, so it mustn’t have been a dream; however no one else seemed to be hearing it. This was beginning to get bizarre. A few weeks passed, with no more occurrences, so we eventually gave up trying to solve the mystery.
In April of 2006, it happened for the last time – same morning of the week, at precisely 1:33 a.m. When our family met at the breakfast table for eggs and biscuits, we talked about our frustration concerning the early morning disturbances. Eric and I brainstormed aloud about possible ways to solve our problem. We thought about setting our alarm clock for 1:15 a.m. the next few Sundays, and trying to catch the jokester in the act. We talked about stronger measures, like rigging a camera to the front porch light fixture on the porch to identify the person. At that point, my fourteen-year-old son interjected a thought that came to his mind.
He said, “This sounds kind of like a Samuel moment.” I queried, “A Samuel moment – What do you mean?” He explained that his ninth grade religion class had recently been studying the Old Testament story of Samuel. Joseph reminded me that Samuel continued to be awakened by what he thought was Eli’s voice. Upon being awakened from sleep a third time, Eli told Samuel that it was, in fact, the voice of the Lord he was hearing. When awakened by the voice again, Samuel was instructed to say, “Speak, for Thy Servant is Listening.”
I was glad to hear that my son was being affected by his religious studies in high school. That is, after all, the reason that Eric and I both work – in order to send him to a Catholic High School. I thought about Joseph’s suggestion for a moment, then decided to go to the Bible, just out of curiosity. Ironically, 1 Samuel 3:3 (1:33 a.m.) is indeed Samuel’s “Here I am” story. We were floored by what had just taken place, and inspired by our teenage son’s remarkable insight.
It has been nearly a year since the first doorbell bolted us like lightning from our sleep. After Joseph’s explanation of the events as he saw it, the bell has never disturbed our slumber again. What that means, I do not know. Perhaps, it was simply God reminding us of his present help in times of trouble. In our crisis, we needed to know that we are still called to serve: “Here I am Lord.” He is always right here beside us, summoning, and waiting to be heard. Are you listening?