3rd Week of Advent (22nd December, 2018)
First Reading: 1 Sam 1:24-28 (Birth of Samuel)
Gospel: Lk 1:46-56 (My soul magnifies the Lord)
The season of Advent invites us to celebrate the first coming and hopefully wait for His Second Coming. The presence of the Lord is said to be in many elements namely in the Word of God, in His people and in the Holy Eucharist as well. We cannot celebrate His birth just be celebrate our birthdays. Our birthday falls one a year and we celebrate it joyfully with much joy and gratitude. The celebration of the birth of Jesus, is, actually to be a not a matter of one day celebration but a lifelong one. We do it as long as we recognise Him in and through others.
Today’s both readings give us narration of how both Hannah and, the wife of Elkanah and Mother Mary recognises the gift God showered upon them. In the case of Hannah, we see that she prayed for the gift of a child. When it was born to them, she recognised that it was God’s gift and she offers him to be at the service of the Lord as a symbol of gratitude to God for the blessings she received from him. So, she says with graceful heart, “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 the petition that I made to him. Therefore, I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord” (1 Sam 1:26-27). She is indeed a great example of how one can pay a fitting thanks to God. not half and half or in any less or greater portion to God but complete offering to God. It was possible because she knew it from the Lord. We have a similar act of gratitude in the case of the leper in the New Testament, who realising that he became well, came to thank the Lord (Lk 17:11-19). Not only that, Hannah also praised God for his kindness and mercy upon the humble and lowly (1 Sam 2:1-10).
We find similar act of gratitude through a song of praise in today’s’ Gospel in the form of Magnificat. The text is full of praise and glory to God for His acts. Mary has two instances of witness to God’s favour for the human beings. Both were instances God’s regard for the humble, his act of exaltation of those who place themselves in His hands, his mercy for those in need. The prayer of Zachariah and Elizabeth even in the state of physical impossibility gets fulfilled. And so, Mary, a person of humble but devoted upbringing was exalted to be considered the Mother of God the Mot High. So, recognising God’s favour for the humble and lowly, her heart expresses her praise and glory to God.
Hannah and Mother Mary stand as examples of how we can recognise the Lord in our lives. They had prayerful and humble hearts. Their life was anchored on trust in Him alone. Whatever they received was reciprocated with offering of themselves as Mary says, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done tome according to your will” or as Hanna offered her son to the service of God through god’s servant Eli.
As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus as well as yearn for His second coming, we also need to recognise that all what we are is because of His grace and His grace and mercy upon us is never ending. Once we realise His presence in our lives and his constant companionship with us, our life will become a life of grace and joy as it was in the life of Hannah, Mary and the innumerable person who are known or unknown to us. Amen.