This is a great reading! I can imagine Samuel groggily awakening from sleep thinking he had heard Eli calling him. Eli undoubtedly gets very annoyed when Samuel wakes him up a second time. When the Lord calls the third time, Samuel still does not get it because “the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”

How often does the Lord call in my life and I do not recognize his voice? The reading tells us the recognition of God’s voice is itself a gift from God. That is true, but I am also reminded of the advice attributed to St. Ignatius, “pray as if everything depends upon God and work as if everything depends upon you.” We can do things to better prepare ourselves to receive and recognize God’s voice in our lives.

I am reminded of watching the America’s Cup final race this past summer. This is something I would normally not even bother with because I know nothing about sailing, but a sailor friend of mine invited me to watch with him. As we watched he explained what the boats were doing and why. It was fascinating. Because of his many years of “working” at sailing, he was able to bring the race alive for me. He could see things that totally escaped me until he explained them.

I think the same is true in the spiritual life. We can do things like prayer, spiritual direction, and leading an active sacramental life which will prepare us to recognize God’s voice in our lives. When we do hear, may we respond “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits