Thursday, December 22, 2011

According to Your Word - December 22nd of the Advent Season

(Image of the Advent wreath is from ImageVine/courtesy of All rights reserved.)

(I Sam 1:24-28; Lk 1:46-56)

The central figure of the first reading is Hannah, the mother of Samuel. She was married to Elkanah, who loved her more than his other wife, Peninnah. Hannah was childless but Peninnah had several children. When Elkanah could not notice, Peninnah would humiliate Hannah because she was barren.

Once a year Elkanah and his family would climb the hillside of Shiloh to offer sacrifices at their favorite shrine. During one of their visits, Hannah hid near a deserted altar, tears streaming down her face, her voice uttering incoherent prayers. Eli, the high priest, old and half blind, found the grieving woman and accused her, “Woman, you have taken too much wine.” “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.” Eli apologized and joined her in praying for a son. Hope filled the heart of Hannah as she left the shrine.

Hannah gave birth to a baby boy and named him, Samuel, which means “Name of God.” When it was time to go to Shiloh again, Hannah declined to go because it was more fitting to consecrate him to the Lord after she stopped nursing him.

Our reading today describes the moment that Hannah returned to Shiloh to fulfill her vow. She left Samuel with Eli in order to be trained for service to the Lord.

It is a well-chosen reading. With Christmas only three days away, the Church gives us the example of Hannah. She believed that Samuel, “Name of the Lord,” was born because of God’s intervention. The story prepares our hearts to believe that Jesus, “The Lord Who Saves” is the result of God's special intervention: “God so loved the world that He sent his Only Son so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:16). God gave Hannah a son. God has given us His very Son. Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us welcome him into our hearts!

– Fr. Bonaventure Midili, T.O.R.