Yesterday morning, I stopped on my way to work to go to Mass at Christ the King. The first reading was one I love – the revelation to Samuel in Chapter 3 of the first book of Samuel.
The passage recounts a time when “young Samuel was minister to the Lord under Eli.” Samuel awakens from his sleep three times when he hears a voice calling him and thinks it is Eli. The first two times, Eli simply tells him to go back to sleep. By the third time, Eli, recognizing that the voice is that of God, instructs Samuel how to respond: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
I’ve prayed with this passage many times and, even when not in prayer, find myself mouthing the words Eli instructs Samuel to respond to God’s call – Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.
But yesterday, in his homily, Fr. Dale Korogi focused on a line in that passage that I had never fastened on in my prayer – one of the final lines of the passage: “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” He talked about the promise and the fidelity of God those words implied – God hears and listens to all of our prayers.
He spoke about Jake Jablonski, a local high school hockey player who was seriously injured during a recent game. He severely bruised his spinal cord and it is unclear the extent to which his paralysis will be permanent. Student in the local schools, as well as others, are all praying for a miracle.
Fr. Dale admitted that the rational part of him has concern for these students. Surely their prayers won’t result in the miracle they hope for and won’t they be disappointed when it doesn’t?
But reflecting on this passage, he said, makes him realize that the students are doing exactly the right thing. We should ask for the miracle. We, of course, have no control over what will happen, and we recognize that God sometimes answers our prayers in ways different from what we hoped. Nonetheless, we should always approach God with expectation. With childlike expectant faith, knowing that none of our words fall to the ground.
Ask big, as St. Ignatius sometimes said. Ask for the miracle. And then leave it in God’s hands.