Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” “I did not call you, ” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am, ” he said. “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Eli and John the Baptist were remarkable men. Both had prestigious responsibilities that made them a center of attention. Eli was tasked with tending the Ark of the Covenant, and the only person allowed to enter the Holy of Holies where dwelled the presence of God. John attracted hundreds of followers by proclaiming a message of hope and repentance.
But when the time came, both men had the freedom to step aside in order to let someone else shine. When Eli realized that God was speaking to a young boy in his charge, Eli did not grow jealous and say, “Lord, why Samuel and not me?” And in today’s Gospel (Jn 1:35-42), when John saw Jesus walking by, he said, “here is the Lamb of God,” knowing that his own disciples would leave him to follow Jesus.
True Christian humility means a willingness to step down—or to step up—in response to whatever will serve the greater glory of God.
In every good decision, insofar as it depends on us, the eye of our intention ought to be single. I ought to focus only on the purpose for which I am created, to praise God our Lord and to save my soul. Accordingly, anything whatsoever that I decide ought to be chosen as an aid toward that end.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola