In the reading from 1 Samuel today for this Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time we find young Samuel, having come to life through the blessing of God and dedicated by his parents to the service of God in the temple, ministering to the Lord under the priest, Eli.
Samuel, asleep in the temple near the ark of God, heard his name called three distinct times. Thinking it was his teacher, Eli, he went to him and found that Eli had not called him. He was confused, for as the scripture says "At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet." Eli, too, was a bit confused. But then it dawned upon him that maybe it was the Lord calling, and so he told Samuel to answer the call of his name with the simple but heartfelt words "Speak, for your servant is listening." It was then that the Lord revealed himself, then that Samuel began an encounter with the Lord that laid out his life as a prophet, then that the Lord allowed him to grow and speak words that would never be without effect.
I thought of the people in my life who, like Eli, introduced me to the Lord, invited me to respond to the call of the Lord, and were good mentors in my journey. From Mom and Dad, from faith filled grand parents, from a loving sister and friend, through priests, sisters, parish, friends and a multitude of others over the years I have been encouraged to listen to the Lord, to respond with my own "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening", and to establish a relationship with the Lord of life that makes me who I am. We all need good people, great encouragers and wise mentors like Eli in our lives. If we are so blessed ... then we are blessed.