Let's get to work: "Listen" (7/10)

In vocational pastoral care there has been much talk of creating vocational culture, which in its origins highlighted the need for some basic attitudes necessary to enable listening and vocational response. In the present moment, without downplaying this meaning, vocational culture is understood as a culture of accompaniment, discernment and, above all, listening. Let's talk about the latter.
Fabián Martín Gómez Pastoral | 2021 Apr 05

One of the vocational biblical texts that best illuminate the mystery of the divine call is the text of Samuel's vocation, in 1 Samuel 3,1-4,1.Some important details of this extraordinary text of the Bible are powerfully draw attention. First, the passage places us before a time of religious decline reflected in the priest Eli and his children: "Tell him that I condemn his family definitively, for he knew that his children cursed God and did not rebuke them." It is  in the same context that God makes new times  flourish for the people of Israel: "By Samuel, the Word of God was heard throughout Israel."

Second, Samuel's triple call, which leads him to address the elder Eli, reflects the deep disorientation and uncertainty that the People of the Covenant are advancing through. Similarly, the biblical text says that visions did not abound, that Eli's eyes began to go out and he could not see, but that God's lamp had not yet been extinguished. God manifests himself in the contrast between the darkness of vision and the dim light of hope.

And thirdly, we have another rather suggestive detail in the account of Samuel's vocation. It is said at first, on the one hand, that the Word of the Lord was very rare at the time. And on the other hand, the Lord addressed Samuel on five different occasions. Had the Word of God stopped ringing? Wouldn't it be more like I'd stopped finding listeners? Samuel has his ear attentive and his heart open, even if he does not fully understand the word he hears. Attentive ears and open hearts are the sacred space where God's call finds resonance.

In this biblical passage the protagonists are neither Eli nor Samuel; the protagonist is the Word of God that bursts into darkness, darkness, and the life of the child Samuel. Despite the ambiguity of the life of the priest Eli, he understands that his intervention in the face of events is to put the child Samuel before the Word of God that is resonated with force in his life. "Eli then understood that it was the Lord who called the child, and said, go, lie down. And if someone calls you, he says, Speak, Lord, that thy servant hears."

A very important key in the Christian life, and which is a necessary condition to discover what God wants from each of his children, is listening. In order to hear God's voice, it is important to let speak. Eli did not tell Samuel, answer "listen Lord, that thy servant speaks, but speaks, Lord, that thy servant hears."It is very important to learn to set aside the many noises and echoes that prevent you from hearing God's voice. This is how the Word of life gives God's own life to its listeners.

Samuel now puts himself at the service of the Word he hears from God. Samuel's vocation is an invitation to collaborate in the flourishing of new times, brighter and pierced by hope. Samuel, listening to the Word and responding to God's call to him, becomes a servant of the same Word. Samuel's vocation is a vocation as a prophet; he opens in the history of the people of Israel the new times that God drives with his actions.

Vocation animation agents have a double entrustment. First, as the priest Eli, instruct teenagers and young people that when they hear "the voice of the wind" pronounce their name, they give themselves time and space to stand before the presence of the Lord and be courageous to say, "Speak Lord, that your servant, -- maythy servant, listen."Therefore, vocational pastoral workers are servants of a living encounter with Christ, mainly through his Word. The rest is the Lord's business.

Second entrusts, listening, listening, and listening. The animators of vocations listen with empathy. Since they have two ears and a mouth, they hear twice as much as they talk. And they listen to share the way of seeking those answers that give meaning to one's life; all co-disciples of the one Master. Thus, that which can be enlightened in the life of a young man through accompaniment, will always be born of attentive listening. And those who open their hearts and rely on the testimony of faith of the older brethren in following Jesus Christ will surely find confirmation in Jesus' call to them.

Fabián Martín Gómez,  Augustinian Recollect

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