Imagine you are Samuel, a young boy who was the disciple of Eli, the high priest. It is night, and you are sleeping in the temple. In the next room is your master, Eli. You hear someone calling your name. You think it is your master, so you go to see what he wants. He tells you to go back to your bed, and not play with the Nintendo game he knows you have hidden.
You almost get back to sleep, but you hear your name again. You go back to the Eli. He is starting to wonder about you, but tells you to go back to bed.
You hear your name a third time, and go to the high priest. He now knows that it is God calling you and tells you to say the next time, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
It is going on today, this listening to God. When we follow our better angels we are following God. God keeps calling out to us.
But, like Samuel, we can often get confused. Just think. Samuel lived in a time when there was no internet, and it still took him two times, and the help of Eli, to understand that God was talking to him. So, to discern if you are on the right track, see if what you are hearing is in tune with the Catholic Church and its two thousand year wisdom. As Pope Francis said in his homily on Easter Sunday 2014, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love. It is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, and sharing with the needy. It is standing at the side of the sick, the elderly, and the outcast. It is love, which is more powerful than just words.
Love gives life. Love makes hope blossom in the wilderness. If you come from love, and follow the Church, you cannot go far wrong. If you do that, you know you are on the right track.
Not only does God help you to discern for yourself, he also helps you to lead others to him. In the Gospel of John we read that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew and another disciple overheard John the Baptist say as Jesus walked by, “Behold, the lamb of God.” This caused them to be curious, so they followed Jesus. According to John,
“They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’
“He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day.” (John 1:38-39)
Then Andrew told his brother Simon, who became known as “Cephas” or “Peter.” Peter eventually told Cornelius, the Roman centurion. Then St Paul told the Gentiles. St. Francis told the world about simplicity. How will we keep that tradition of passing on the Good News? Who will we tell?
Notice that Andrew and his friend did not ask Jesus to tell them about God. Andrew wanted to know where Jesus lived. He wanted to know how he lived out his faith. Did Jesus just talk the talk or did he walk the walk?
When I worked with recovering alcoholics, a question that newly recovering people would often ask is: how do I chose sponsors or people that help others on the road to recovery? The wise AA types would advise listening to what was said in the meetings, then invite them out to coffee and see if they walk the walk.
If you really live out your listening to God you will find that you are more loving, more forgiving. You will find out that you attract people to God’s way of life.
Some will think you are crazy.
—Father Mike Van Cleve
Father Mike is a priest for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.