Speaking Up to Do God’s Will

by Kathleen Glavich, SND on January 17, 2018

in Blogs

This week when the first reading at Mass was the story of the boy Samuel being called by God during the night, Fr. John Christman did not give the expected homily. Usually this story is a springboard for a vocation talk. Instead Father focused on the sequel to the reading. After Samuel replies to God, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” God gives him a daunting task. He is to tell the priest Eli, Samuel’s beloved mentor, that his family would be punished because his two sons were blaspheming and Eli did nothing to stop them. The message of this reading on two levels is “Speak up!” Imagine how Samuel dreaded bearing the bad news to Eli. It would have been much easier to keep quiet. But Samuel did what God expected of him. He spoke to Eli. On the other hand, there is Eli’s silence when he should have spoken up. That had dire consequences: his two sons were killed in battle and he fell over backwards, broke his neck, and died. Today some brave people are carrying out this message to speak up; others choose to remain silent.

In the MeToo movement, people who have been sexually abused are refusing to protect their perpetrators and are speaking out. In some cases, this prevents others from becoming future victims. It also has emboldened other people to speak out. In our country all kinds of injustices are occurring. It takes courage to speak out, especially when your job or reputation is at stake. How wonderful if more people would say “enough is enough” and take a stand to promote the world that God envisions: one of peace and happiness for all people.

A good patron saint for the cause of speaking out would be John the Baptist. King Herod had taken his brother’s wife for himself. John wasn’t afraid to state the truth that this was seriously wrong. Maybe John was the only one to do so, and it led to his execution. (Herod died an excruciating death.) A second patron saint would be the prophet Nathan. After King David had committed adultery and murder, Nathan cleverly told him a parable about a wealthy man who stole a poor man’s one lamb. King David exclaimed that the wealthy man ought to die. Nathan bluntly stated, “That man is you!” Through baptism we share in Christ’s role of prophet, one who speaks for God.

We can promote good government by being knowledgeable about issues, voting, contacting our representatives, and participating in peaceful protests. On a more personal note, maybe a family member, a relative, or a friend is caught in a web of sin. It could be that a word from us might free that person. But that is risky. It takes courage and much love. If Eli had had the strength to correct his sons, how different their lives would have played out. We all have power to make a difference. Whether we use it, depends on how much we care.

Someone observed once that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing. The source of this saying is debatable, but it certainly rings true, maybe today more than ever. What are we waiting for?

“Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent.” (Acts 18:9)

Has someone’s words ever made a difference in your life?


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