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Homily for 9/2/12 - P13/Pr Samuel - Here I am

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  • Fr David Moser
    Often we hear in the scripture a particular story that catches our attention and influences our lives. Sometimes that story will stay with us and become a
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2 4:42 PM
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      Often we hear in the scripture a particular story that catches our
      attention and influences our lives. Sometimes that story will stay with
      us and become a touchstone of our lives. For me, the childhood of the
      Prophet Samuel is just one of those stories. The child Samuel was born
      in answer to the fervent prayers of his mother Hannah, who had been
      barren and without children. She promised to God that if He would grant
      her a child, that she would give the child to the service of the Lord.
      God heard her prayer and she gave birth to the infant Samuel. As soon as
      he was weaned, she sent Samuel to serve the priest Eli in the temple of
      the Lord. Now Eli had two sons of his own, Hophni and Phineas who also
      served as priests in the temple. These two young men, however, cared
      only for their own pleasure and abused their place as priests, stealing
      from the people who came to offer sacrifice and taking whatever pleased
      them for themselves. Eli begged his sons to repent and to cease their
      evil ways, but they did not listen. The child Samuel, on the other hand,
      grew and pleased both God and man.

      As Eli grew old, he lost his vision and on his behalf, Samuel cared for
      the lamp in the temple so that it would not go out. For this reason
      Samuel slept in the temple near the ark of the Lord. One night he awoke
      to hear a voice calling his name. Samuel got up and ran to Eli saying,
      “You have called me, here I am” But Eli replied that he had not called
      and sent Samuel back to sleep. Again Samuel awoke hearing a voice
      calling his name – but again Eli denied that he had done so and sent him
      back to sleep. A third time, Samuel awoke hearing the same call. At
      this, Eli recognized that it was the voice of the Lord and that God
      Himself was calling to Samuel. Eli then instructed Samuel to go back to
      sleep and if he should again hear this same call to remain where he was
      and reply, “Here I am. Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.”

      Indeed it happened again as before and when Samuel awoke hearing the
      voice, he replied as Eli taught him saying, “Speak Lord for your servant
      heareth.” At this the Lord gave to Samuel a prophecy concerning the fate
      of the priest Eli and his household. God said that because Eli knew that
      his sons did evil and served only themselves but did not stop them, the
      household of Eli would come to an end and another would be set in his
      place as the priest for there would be no male in his household to take
      his place. The next morning Eli asked Samuel what the Lord had told him
      and Samuel related the prophecy of the failing of Eli’s household. Eli,
      accepting the word of the Lord said simply, “It is the Lord: let Him do
      what is good in His sight.” From this time on Samuel was marked as the
      chosen prophet of God and throughout all Israel he became known as such.

      There came a time that the enemies of the Hebrew people attacked. The
      Hebrews advanced to fight against their enemies and with them the Ark of
      the Lord was brought by the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas. Despite the
      presence of the Ark, the Hebrews were defeated and the sons of Eli were
      both killed bringing an end to his line. Upon hearing this news, Eli,
      already 98 years old was striken with grief, fell over and died.

      Now let us consider the call of the Lord to the child Samuel. He heard a
      voice which he mistook for Eli and came running saying, “Here I am”. He
      did not hesitate and even the third time, still he came to Eli, ready to
      serve. When finally Eli instructed him to stay and respond to the voice
      of God, Samuel again did not hesitate, but as soon as he heard the voice
      of the Lord he responded, this time saying “Speak Lord for thy servant
      heareth.” We are all called to serve God. We may not hear an actual
      voice as did Samuel, but each of us are, in one way or another, called
      by God. When we recognize this call, do we respond as did Samuel –
      responding with the willingness to follow God saying, “Here I am, speak
      Lord for thy servant heareth” or do we put off our response, trying to
      fulfill our own desires first and so neglect the call of God. Or perhaps
      we willingly respond, but soon get distracted and lose our way. Or even
      like the priest Eli who lost the place of his family in the temple
      because he could not discipline his sons, we serve God, but are unable
      to fulfill our service because we are unable to discipline our own human
      will.

      The sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas were called by God through their
      forefather Levi to serve as priests before the altar of the Lord in the
      temple. They were called, but chose not to serve God but to serve
      themselves instead. They used their position to take whatever they
      wanted for their own pleasure, indulging themselves rather than serving
      the Lord. For some, this is how we respond to the call of God. They hear
      the call and perhaps even pretend to follow that call – but choose
      instead to serve themselves. Instead of saying to God, “Here I am, speak
      for thy servant heareth,” they pushed aside the call of God, listening
      instead to the call of their own passions and desires.

      As the prophet of the Lord, Samuel was sent by God to anoint the chosen
      king of the Hebrew people. First he sought out Saul and set him as king
      over all the people. King Saul began as a good and God-fearing ruler,
      however, he was distracted by his place as king and forgot the service
      of God. King Saul was overwhelmed by the rule of his kingdom and forgot
      that just as it was by the hand of God that he had received his kingdom
      so he could only rule by relying on the help of the Lord. Instead he
      began to depend upon himself and he lost his way. As a result, God
      called Samuel again to anoint a new King, the Prophet and King David.
      Although David as a man was far from perfect, he never forgot that he
      was the servant of God and because he depended on the help of the Lord,
      he was blessed by God throughout his life.

      In these men, the priest Eli, his sons Hophni and Phineas and King Saul
      we see those who were called by God but who failed to respond to that
      call. In the Prophet Samuel we see their antithesis – the one who was
      called and who responded without hesitation or reservation and who
      served God throughout his life.

      When God calls you, how will you respond? Will you be like Eli and fall
      short because you are unable to discipline your own will? Will you be
      like the sons of Eli and serve God only in appearance, but in truth
      serving only your own base desires and passions. Will you be like King
      Saul – starting out to serve God but losing your way by depending upon
      your own strength rather than on the grace and strength of God. Or will
      you be like Samuel, constantly alert to the voice of the Lord,
      responding without hesitation or reservation. If we take one thing from
      the life of this prophet, let us take his unfailing response to the call
      of God, saying to God, “Here I am. Speak for your servant heareth.”

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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