January 9, 2018

1 Samuel 1:9-20


After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.”


As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” 


Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.


They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”


Responsorial: Samuel 2:1, 4-8


“My heart exults in the Lord;
    my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
    because I rejoice in my victory.


The bows of the mighty are broken,
    but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
    but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
    but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
    he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
    he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
    he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
    and inherit a seat of honor.


Mark 1:21-28


They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then 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.” But 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. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.






A few years back, a popular song played this lyric: “I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees.” This line resonates with anyone who has experienced a crisis. Whether these crises arise suddenly or manifest over a long period of difficulty, and regardless of one’s religious upbringing, nothing makes us more aware of our need for God than when we see our need for help against a situation that is beyond us. And nothing makes us more aware of the presence of God in our lives than when we receive that help or see miracles, fixing something that should not be possible.


Hannah experienced this in her powerlessness against infertility, as did the man in the Gospel who was held captive by an unclean spirit. To natural eyes, their situations looked impossible, yet when the Lord stepped in, everything changed. Their hopelessness turned to amazement by the bystanders and to Hannah’s joyful canticle, in which she marveled at the power of the Lord who can break the bows of the mighty, raise up the poor to sit with nobles, and to give both death and life. Just as Hannah was intensely aware of her need for the Lord’s help, she equally recognized His power in her life when He answered her prayer.


We have just finished celebrating the Christmas season, in which we rejoice at the Lord’s coming to earth to dwell among us. Just as the Father saw the world’s need for a Savior and decided to send His own Son to heal and bring us closer to Him through His life, death, and Resurrection, He sees the situations we face on a daily basis and the ways we are powerless. He desires that we encounter Him first in the process of bringing these situations to Him, as Hannah did, and in the ways that He answers us.


Take a few moments today to remember the ways that God has answered your prayers in the past. Reflect on those moments, marvel at His power, and thank Him for His deep love and care for you.  Then, with a trusting and honest heart, pour out the situations you are facing now, and ask Him in faith for help. Trust that the same Savior who came into this world over two thousand years ago, and has the power to work even the impossible, hears you, loves you, and will answer you.





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