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Tuesday – First Week – OT2
Readings: 1 Sam 1:9-20; Mk 1:21-28
Reading 1 (1 Sam 1:9-20):
Hannah rose after a meal at Shiloh,
and presented herself before the LORD;
at the time, Eli the priest was sitting on a chair
near the doorpost of the LORD’s temple.
In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously,
and she made a vow, promising: “O LORD of hosts,
if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid,
if you remember me and do not forget me,
if you give your handmaid a male child,
I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives;
neither wine nor liquor shall he drink,
and no razor shall ever touch his head.”
As she remained long at prayer before the LORD,
Eli watched her mouth, for Hannah was praying silently;
though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard.
Eli, thinking her drunk, said to her,
“How long will you make a drunken show of yourself?
Sober up from your wine!”
“It isn’t that, my lord,” Hannah answered.
“I am an unhappy woman.
I have had neither wine nor liquor;
I was only pouring out my troubles to the LORD.
Do not think your handmaid a ne’er-do-well;
my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.”
Eli said, “Go in peace,
and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She replied, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and left.
She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband,
and no longer appeared downcast.
Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD,
and then returned to their home in Ramah.
When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah,
the LORD remembered her.
Gospel (Mk 1:21-28):
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are “the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this? A new teaching with authority.”
I. THEME: God’s power and authority
To convince others, a preacher needs to have authority in words and deeds. Beside knowledge and reasoning, a preacher must know how to present his sermon clearly, concisely and easy to follow. However, words are just used to call attention; to completely convince his audience, a preacher must live according to what he preached or he needs others to be his witnesses.
Today readings concentrate on God and Jesus’ power and authority. In the first reading, God understands Hannah’s sorrow; He gave to her a son who later became His prophet. In the Gospel, Jesus’ audience immediately recognized the difference between Jesus and scribes; they said: “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
1/ Reading I: Samuel means “I have asked him of the LORD.”
1.1/ Hannah’s sorrow: To mothers who have children so easy, they shall not understand the grief of a barren mother like Hannah in today reading. She strongly desired to have a child so she can become a mother. She knew that only God, who has authority on life, can satisfy her desire. She intensely prayed to God for a long time and the high priest Eli took her to be a drunken woman. He said to her, “How long will you be drunken? Put away your wine from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman sorely troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your maidservant as a base woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”
In the Old Testament, New Testament and real life, many persons realized that God had chosen them before they were formed in their mothers’ womb; for examples, Sampson, Samuel, Isaiah and John Baptist. In these cases, the mothers were sterile for a long time, and some were in danger when they gave birth to their child. These mothers consciously recognized God’s intervention; they loved and cared for their special child before they offered him to God so that he can serve God all the day of his life.
An example for these can be seen in today reading. Hannah had an intention to offer her son to God before she even conceives him. She promised to God: “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.”
According to Jewish tradition, those who were consecrated their life for God were called the Nazirites. They shall not eat or drink fermented food nor shave their hair and beard during the consecrating time or all of their life.
1.2/ God has power to change a person’s fate: God understands Hannah’s grief. He plans to give her a son and has a ready plan for the child who is going to be born. The high priest Eli consoled and blessed 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 the woman went her way and ate, and her countenance was no longer sad.
And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her; and in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD.” In the New Testament, there was also a similar case which happened to Elisabeth, Mary’s cousin. She also realized God’s intervention and named her child, John, which is the abbreviation of Jeho-hannah in Greek. This name means “God’s gift.”
2/ Gospel: “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits.”
2.1/ People were astonished because of his preaching: St. Mark reported the audience’s comment on hearing Jesus’ preaching: “They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”
The “one who had authority” is a person who clearly knows about the topic, not guessing nor depending on others’ opinion. This comment isn’t a surprise if we believe Christ is God’s wisdom or God’s intellect. He knows all things that happens in the past, the present and the future. Many times in the Gospel, Jesus straightforward corrected the wrong understanding of Jewish tradition. In Matthew, we see Jesus’ use of the formula: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old… But I say to you that…” (Mt 5:21-22 ). Scribes are human beings; they are partly understood and many times wrongly understood. They must rely on the authority of Scripture as the base for their teaching; they didn’t propose any new teaching.
2.2/ Jesus has authority on unclean spirits: Mark continued to report: “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.””
The Jews believe there are many unclean spirits in the world. Jesus expelled them from people many times. Unclean spirits can be the souls of people who aren’t liberated yet.
(1) “You are the Holy One of God:” The unclean spirits know Jesus’ origin and his purpose: Jesus comes from the Lord, his purpose is to destroy sins and those who cause sins. Not only that, he also recovers the original holiness for people; he prepares people to see God.
(2) Jesus has power to expel unclean spirits: Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
(3) People’s reaction: “They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Since Jesus sacrificed his life to recover human original justice, we need to imitate Jesus to expel and to avoid unclean spirits in our life.
– We used to value what we has been desired for a long time. This is a reason why God sometimes doesn’t give us what we ask right away; but He wants us to wait and to appreciate what we ask for.
– We need to clearly understand what God teaches us before we can preach the Good News to others. To convince them, we need both God’s words and our good deeds.