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December 22nd – Advent
Readings: 1 Sam 1:24-28; Lk 1:46-56.
First reading (1 Sam 1:24-28): In those days,
Hannah brought Samuel with her, along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine,
and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull,
Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
“Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord,
I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD;
as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.”
She left Samuel there.
Gospel (Lk 1:46-56): Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months
and then returned to her home.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Recognize God’s gift and give thanks to Him.
To recognize God’s gift is difficult, to thank Him for His gift is even more difficult. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus healed ten lepers; but only one of them who is a Samarian returned to thank him. To give thanks is more difficult, but to give back to God what He gave us is the most difficult of all. There were some barren mothers who had courage to give back to God their sons to do God’s will. Though they love their only son very much but their gratitude to God was stronger. They knew very well that if God didn’t interfere, they shall never have their son.
Today readings describe the gratitude of two courageous mothers. In the first reading, Hannah experienced the shame of a barren mother because her husband’s second wife scorned her. Out of frustration, Hannah asked God to give her a son and promised to give him back to the Lord, so that the child shall serve God in the temple all the days of his life. When God granted her a son, she kept her promise and offered her son to God. In the Gospel, the Blessed Virgin Mary knew she is only a humble maidservant; but God raised her to be the Mother of the Messiah. This honor is completely from God’s love and power. Mary was also ready to give Jesus back to God so that he could fulfill his mission, given by his Father.
1/ First reading: Hannah gave her child back to God so that he could serve God.
1.1/ The shame of a barren woman: Elkanah had two wives, one called Hannah, the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was barren. When Elkanah went up to temple to offer offerings, he used to divide offerings that he got back to Peninnah and her children; he also gave Hannah a special part because he loved her, though God made her barren. Peninnah, her opposition, scorned Hannah because of her barrenness. Elkanah did that every year when he went up to God’s house at Shiloh; and Peninnah continued to scorn her. When such thing happened, Hannah only wept and refused to eat though her husband consoled her.
1.2/ Hannah prayed God to give her a son: She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thy maidservant, and remember me, and not forget thy maidservant, but wilt give to thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head” (1 Sam 1:10-11). The high priest Eli advised her, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have made to him.” And Hannah said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your eyes.” Then Hannah went her way and ate, and her countenance was no longer sad.
1.3/ Hannah’s prayer was answered: After that, Elkanah had a sexual relation with Hannah, and God remembered her. Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel because she said: “I have asked him of the God.” Next year, Elkanah came up to Shiloh with his family to offer annual offerings to the Lord and to fulfill his vow to Him. Hannah didn’t accompany him, and she said to him: “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and abide there forever.” Elkanah said to her, “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word.”
1.4/ Hannah offered her son back to the Lord: And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine; and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slew the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And Hannah said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD has granted me my petition which I made to him. Therefore, I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.” And they worshiped the LORD there (1 Sam 1:24-28).
2/ Gospel: Mary praised and gave thanks to God.
2.1/ God is the source of all blessings: The Blessed Virgin Mary knew well she is only a maidservant of the Lord; moreover, she is also a lowly creature who was created by Him. Because God loved and remembered, Mary was raised to become the Mother of the Messiah. This grace helped not only her to reach salvation but also all people. With immense gratitude to God, she joyfully praised Him: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”
2.2/ God has mercy on those who revere Him: Fear of the Lord is not only the source of all wisdom, but also the condition to inherit all blessings. With three concise verses, the author of the Magnificat showed three God’s revolutions:
(1) A moral revolution: God opposes the proud and raises up the lowly; while worldly people take pride of themselves and ignore God.
(2) A social revolution: God puts down the mighty from their thrones and exalts those of low degree; while worldly people rely on their power to oppress the poor.
(3) An economical revolution: God fills the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away; while in the world, the rich become richer, and the poor become poorer.
2.3/ God faithfully keep His promises: All that God promised shall be fulfilled; not because human beings are worthy of His promises; but only because of His compassion: “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God is rich in mercy. If we faithfully expressed our faith, He shall grant what we asked for.
– We must be humble and revere God. We should be gratitude to Him because of all blessings He has done to us.
– God’s grace is given to serve and to build up Christ’s body, not to keep it for ourselves. We must use His gifts to serve Him and others.