1st Week, Monday, Jan 13th Plus Liturgy

1 Samuel 1: 1-8; Mark 1:14-20
*Hannah is barren: Her rival made her burden heavier. *

Jay Kesler tells this story in his book Growing Places. Late one night he was walking down a street in India. A boy with no legs hobbled up on crutches and asked for money. Jay obliged him generously. Jay turned and continued his walk. He hadn’t gone ten steps when he heard a terrible racket.
He turned around and saw several beggars swarming over the boy. They were stealing from him the money he’d just begged. Like Peninnah, who ridiculed Hannah for being barren, the other beggars made the boy’s burden even heavier to carry.
Do we add to the sorrow of those already heavily burdened?
“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Anonymous
We are already thirteen days into the new year, if we still want to consider it as new, because things have gone back to routine. With each wedding, with each funeral, with each infant being baptized, a new direction takes shape, priorities are re-arranged, plans are altered and surprises are to be expected along the way.
However, we are not just to sit and wonder what else will happen this year. As Christians, we must ask: How will God happen in our lives?
That is quite a question. The coming or the happening of God in our lives can have such a radical and mysterious effect on us, that we need to stop and reflect on it. Yet the coming or the happening of God in our lives is also a time of fulfillment.

In the gospel, when Jesus came into the lives of Peter and Andrew, and James and John, they followed Him at once because they know it was time to change their course of life, to go on a different kind of fishing trip and to catch a different kind of fish.

Similarly, in the 1st reading, we also could feel that God was going to come in the life of Hannah and something was going to happen.

The coming and the happening of God in our lives this year could make us anxious and leave us in suspense. But we should feel excited and energized and filled with joyful hope because God is coming into our lives and make it a happening for us.

Our lives are not made to be dull and dreary. God wants to come into our lives, every day and every moment, so that we too can live the loving life of God.

A word about the books of Samuel. After the confused times of the settlement in Palestine comes a more stable era with the kings. This period is important because the very vague “salvation” described earlier, – a land of their own for the Hebrews, their growth as a people – turns now into messianism on the basis of the kingship of David: an ideal king will come in whom the promises will be fulfilled. Jesus, descendant of David, will found the eternal kingdom promised to David. In today’s reading in Year II, Samuel appears as the prophet who reluctantly prepares the foundation of a Hebrew kingdom. Only a king can unify and defend the people.
In the Gospel, Jesus begins to preach the coming of the kingdom of God among people. He calls for penance and conversion and chooses his first disciples. These same words are addressed to us today: “Repent, be converted, be fishers of people for the kingdom.”

Opening Prayer
Lord, our God, you invite us, disciples of your Son today, to be wholly converted to the Gospel and to help extend your kingdom. Give us hearts open to the Good News and the generosity to share it with people of our day. We ask you this through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The call that the disciples of Jesus received differs from that of Samuel. His life story begins in today’s first reading. The Samuel story is an impressive one of a man who was singularly upright throughout his life. Born of a formerly childless marriage, he was the son of the faith-filled Hannah and a concerned father, Elkanah. He was raised within the precincts of a major sanctuary, in an atmosphere of piety and respect. In today’s reading, Hannah pleads with God for a child. Her prayer is marked by perseverance, even as she bears the reproach of her husband’s second wife. What is striking is the confidence of her prayer.
The disciples of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee respond to their call with a sense of immediacy. Their response is decisive, while Hannah’s journey of faith lasted many years. For a Hebrew woman to be childless was little better than being accursed. The fulfillment of her call to be the mother of a prophet was slow in coming, but her longing never wavered. While we admire the sons of Zebedee for their resolute action, our hearts are with Hannah, for whom the call seemed so delayed.

Points to Ponder
Parents’ longing for a child
The gift of a child
Perseverance in prayer


For the Church dear to us, that the Lord may help it to keep renewing itself, so that it may stay on the road of the Gospel and that people can live the Gospel as good news, we pray:
– For those who leave their nets to follow Jesus, the Lord, that they may live the Gospel so as to make it visible and tangible, we pray:
– For all of us in our communities, that the Lord may help us to take the Gospel seriously and to live it in close union with the Lord, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God, in these gifts of bread and wine, we place our goodwill to follow your Son wherever he calls us. Let our encounter here with your Son and with each other mark a new beginning for us of unity and loyal love, that the seed of your kingdom may grow among us through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord, our God, we know what you can do with weak, fallible people. In the strength of your Son, help us to do what surpasses our forces: to be your people and to be to the world the sign that you love everyone and that friendship and justice are no empty words for you and for us. We ask you this through Christ, our Lord.

The time is now. Repent and believe the good news. Come and follow me. Be my disciples. Jesus spoke these words long ago. He addresses them here and now to us. May you heed these words, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.