Speak Lord: Ordinary and extraordinary

Jas de Bouffon, Aix

The seasons of Advent and Christmas over we are now back in Ordinary Time – back in (mostly) ‘Green’ time. Indeed we have been since Monday (Christmas having ended on Sunday, with the Baptism of the Lord). This coming Sunday is termed the second Sunday in Ordinary Time. More accurate would seem to be the Sunday of the second week, but there you go.

This time is called ‘Ordinary’ time because it is numbered time – first, second third etc – not because – compared to the seasons of Advent, Christmas etc – it is ordinary, commonplace, unexceptional.

All time is extraordinary for the Christian for it is occasion for a creature (all creatures?) to encounter the Creator and be restored/made new in Christ.

The first reading on Sunday speaks of such an encounter between a creature and the Creator. Our hearing of it opens our way to deeper relationship with Christ (offered to Samuel through the dying and rising of Jesus)

Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord, where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ Then he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli said, ‘I did not call. Go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down. Once again the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ He replied, ‘I did not call you, my son; go back and lie down.’ Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The Lord then came and stood by, calling as he had done before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’
Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground.

1 Samuel 3:3-10,19

Extraordinary. And yet represented in the narrative as though it were the most natural thing in the world, once you have sorted out where the voice is coming from, and who it is who is speaking.

Our prayer is in part seeking to hear the voice of the Lord, however it is mediated, in word, sacrament, the events of daily life. Often on the slant, often hard to say quite how it happens, but we can and do hear the voice of the Lord.

And part of our prayer is speaking with God too. St Luke often seems to warn us against speaking to ourselves in prayer, but speaking to God is always a good thing.

  • How have you learned to be sure it is God to whom you speak, and not yourself?
  • How have you learned to listen to the voice of God, and distinguish it from other voices?

Photograph of Jas de Bouffon, the family home of Paul Cezanne, Aix en Provence. (c) 2104, Allen Morris.

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