NB: Sorry! I add the asterisks for posting on WhatsApp as well - for bold letters
1 Sam 1:9-20 / Mark 1:21-28
*Hannah asks God for a child: She gave birth to Samuel. *
Twelve-year-old Irmgard Wood lived in Stuttgart, Germany, during World War II. One morning her mother and sisters saw an American plane catch fire and fall from the sky. Instinctively, they prayed for the pilot, even though he was an American. Years later, the Woods migrated to America. Irmgard’s mother got a job in a hospital in the San Fernando Valley in California. One day a patient detected her German accent and asked her where she lived in Germany. “Stuttgart,” she said. The patient replied, “I almost got killed in Stuttgart during World War II. One morning my plane caught fire and fell from the sky. Somebody must have been praying for me.”
How much faith do we have in prayer? Do we pray for our enemies? “More things are wrought through prayer than this world dreams of.” Alfred Lord Tennyson
There are many reasons why people come to church. Besides coming to church for Mass, people come to church in times of need. In a time of desperation and desolation, they come to church so as find some direction and consolation and an answer to their prayers. For them, the church is the visible and tangible presence of God and it is where they take refuge in the midst of their troubles.
In the 1st reading, Hannah in her distress went before the Lord, and Eli the priest was observing her and wondering about her intention.
In the gospel, a man possessed by an unclean spirit, began making a scene in the synagogue, with that unclean spirit making a confrontation with Jesus. But as Jesus expelled the unclean spirit out of the possessed man, the people were astonished and they started asking each other what it all meant. But we should know what all that means. Whether it was Hannah in her bitterness of soul or the possessed man struggling with the evil spirit within, they have come before the Lord seeking for help.
The church is like a field hospital where people come to seek God and to be healed of the wounds of the heart and to be delivered from whatever evil that is affecting them.
May we offer these people some understanding and consolation and help so that they will truly experience Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and find peace and healing in the House of God.
*LITURGY: GOD’S SAVING POWER
Extraordinary vocations are, at times, described in the bible in terms of barrenness, which, through prayer and faith in God’s power, produces life. It underlines God’s gratuitous grace, God’s power and also the difficulty, the struggle of faith, to lead to redemption. Samuel, then became the fruit of prayer and faith in God’s power. In the Gospel, Mark shows the power of God at work in Jesus, the Messiah. It is a power that is contested by the powers of evil that must struggle and come to grip with opposition and suffering, but which will ultimately win – through struggle and contradiction. Such is also the power of God today in the world, the power of God in answer to our faith and prayer.
God, source of all power, we like to imagine that we can do great things, but when it comes to your work, to your kingdom of truth and justice, we have to recognize, perhaps grudgingly, that we are weak and ineffective. Help us to acknowledge this weakness not as defeat, but as our real strength, to let your power reveal itself in suffering, in struggles, and in gentleness and love, which you show us in Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord forever.
When Eli sees Hannah praying with great emotion at the temple, he mistakenly assumes she’s drunk and reprimands her. Unfortunately, there are too many Eli incidents in life. Under any circumstances, it is difficult to take unwarranted criticism from another. But when that criticism comes from a person in authority, especially a religious person, it is even more difficult to accept. All Christians, religious authorities especially, should think before they criticize, since circumstances may not always be as they seem. It is interesting in the Gospels to note how circumspect Jesus is in his speech. He never descends to vindictive speech. He is a model of temperate speech and of spiritual outreach. When he is faced with blatant evil, he deals with it resolutely. When faced with a sinful woman, he refuses to accuse her and sends her on her way with a word of counsel. Hannah eventually has a son, and he is well worth the wait. He is the upright and dedicated Samuel. Eli’s original insult of Hannah, when he assumed she had been drinking, is long past. His final words to her are those of blessing and encouragement. But that original insult, based on a misunderstanding, still gives us pause. A lack of charity is often considered a minor infraction. But it bears remembering that it can do considerable harm.
*Points to Ponder*
Speaking the truth in love
The evil of rash judgment Jesus, the model of charity
The wise exercise of authority
– That in the Church, we may bring to one another the healing of forgiveness and compassion, we pray: – That all who are ill may keep hoping that they will be cured and that at least they may bear their suffering in patience, we pray: – That in our communities, we may consider it our task to share each other’s pain and to lighten each other’s burden, we pray: *Prayer over the Gifts* Almighty God and Father, through this bread and this wine you want Jesus, your Son, to join us today in our struggle to be free as disciples who serve you and our neighbor. Let him drive out from us the rebellious spirit of pride and selfishness and fill us with his good spirit, the Holy Spirit of love and strength, that with your Son, we may be yours, now and forever.
*Prayer after Communion*
Lord our God, we are afraid of struggles and pain, of weakness and apparent defeat. Keep reminding us, not harshly but gently, that this was the way of your Son and that this is the way in which you always win. And if we do not understand fully, help us to grow in faith and trust in your own plan for success and in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Jesus was teaching with authority. Why? Because he fully believed in what he said and backed up his teaching with signs. Perhaps the greatest sign was that he lived what he taught. May we too, live as we believe, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.