Homily preached at Maroubra on Sunday 18th January 2015 smatterings of Br. Luke as gleaned by Br. Andrew:
Second Sunday after Epiphany - year B
“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”
What do we know from the reading from samuel?
· The Lord's Word was 'rare' in those days or dear as Rashi puts it in the Hebrew Commentary, it was not falling to earth very often and neither were visions received often.
· "The Lamp of God had not yet gone out" was this the lamp in the Temple to indicate the hour the Lord began to speak to Samuel?
Matthew Poole's Commentary
Ere the lamp of God went out; before the lights of the golden candlestick were put out, i.e. in the night season, or before the morning, when they were put out, as they were lighted in the evening, Exodus 27:21 Leviticus 24:3 2 Chronicles 13:11.
Or did it indicate that though the Word of the Lord was rare in those days that the Lord had not yet abandoned Israel.
We decided that both were applicable.
Samuels bed was near the Ark of God and Eli slept in a room opposite the Holy of Holies to tend to it when needed, Samuel was his guide and ministered for him.
4Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ 5and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down (1 Sam. 3:4-5)
As we have read, this happens three times before Eli realizes that it is the Lord calling Samuel and sends him to lie down and to speak the words written at the beginning of this Sermon. "Speak, Lord, your Servant is Listening"
Note that Samuel does not yet know the Lord which is why he can sleep in the Most Holy Place without coming to grief, why he does not recognize the voice of the Lord when he hears it, but now he is bid to listen and how different is listening from hearing?
Remember this child was given into Eli's care to serve God in the Temple as Hannah's bargain with the Lord for allowing her to conceive a son.
see 1 Samuel 1:11"And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”"
Right from conception Samuel was destined to be a servant of God - and the awesome things God spoke to Samuel once he came and stood where the boy slept and spoke to him of the coming extinction of the house of Eli for the wickedness of the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, in their blasphemy and of their father for not rebuking them or removing them from the office of priest.
“ In the deep silence of that early morning, before the sun had risen, when the sacred light was still burning, came through the mouth of the innocent child the doom of the house of Ithamar.”—Stanley, Lectures on the Jewish Church, Part I.
The seeming threat that Eli makes to elicit the truth concerning the fate of the House of Ithamar...
What else can Eli say except Let the Lord do what seems good to Him.
Josephus tells us that Samuel was 12 when he began to prophesy , the Lord was with him and the Scriptures tell us that not a word of his ever fell to the ground.
The Calling of Nathanael
The story of Jesus calling Nathanael, better known as Bartholomew, sticks in our memory, mine especially under the wording of the KJV
"An Israelite in whom there is no guile."
Jesus calls Philip who recognizes him as the one promised by Moses in the Law and the Prophets - Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth and the response " Can anything good come out of Nazareth"
Nathanael's excited exclamation ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’upon hearing that Jesus "knows" him as an Israelite in which there is no deceit, his innocent goodness in recognizing this description of himself, perceived by Jesus while he was as yet under the peppercorn tree.
The mysterious prophecy of Jesus that Nathanael will see angels ascending and descending upon the son of Man is reminiscent of Jacobs Ladder.