Scripture: 1st Reading: 1Sam1,24-28; Resp. Psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1,4-8; Gospel: Luke 1:46-56
In the story of Hannah in today's first reading, a promise was made. The promise was not in any way a recompense for what God did but an act of thanksgiving for the unmerited goodness of the Almighty. Such promises are meant to be kept to demonstrate the heartfelt thanks of the one to whom unmerited favour has been generously bestowed.
Both readings today describe two women of faith and two mysterious conceptions: the first in the Old Testament by the barren woman Hannah who had become the butt of people's jokes and the ridicule of her enemies. God saw that woman's tears. He sent the prophet Eli to prophesy lasting solution to her misfortune. In thanksgiving and in fulfilment of her promise, she dedicated the child to the service of Yahweh all the days of his life. That child was Samuel. His mother was Hannah.
Hannah's mouth laughed at her enemies as she rejoiced in Yahweh's saving help. Weak and without any helper, Yahweh clothed her with His strength. Yahweh raised up this lowly and poor woman from the dust and dung hill and set her in the company of princes. He changed her mourning into joy and gave her lasting gladness.
The other woman was not barren. She was betrothed to a man but before she came to live with him, was found with a child conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Though not barren, that conception would change her life, her plans for her future and the entire direction of her life. In spite of this, she saw her call as a privilege, an unheard of predilection for which she gave thanks to the Almighty.
In today's gospel, Mary the mother of God gave thanks to God for the special role she was being called upon to assume. Her magnificat tells the story of her choice by Yahweh and her response to that choice. She is Yahweh's lowly handmaid who by virtue of her choice would be called blessed by all generations. The reason for this is very clear: the Almighty whose name is holy and whose mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear Him, had done great things for her.
By choosing her, God showed the power of His arm and routed the proud of heart. "He ... pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. The hungry he ... filled with good things, the rich sent empty away." By choosing her, Yahweh demonstrated that divine values are oftentimes diametrically opposed to human values; that there is strength in weakness and that divine exultation is the reward for humility.
Finally by the choice of this lowly virgin and her cooperation and collaboration with Yahweh in the history of salvation, Yahweh had finally decided to "come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy". This mercy was the one He had promised to Abraham and his posterity forever.
Such is the song of thanksgiving of these two mothers whose sons played pivotal roles in the history of the human race. We join our voices today with theirs in giving thanks to God who showed us such great privilege. We re-dedicate ourselves to Him as we await the coming of His only begotten Son. With the Psalmist, we cry out: "O gates, lift high your heads; grow higher, ancient doors. Let him enter, the king of glory!" (Ps23,7)
Let us pray: "O God, who, seeing the human race fallen into death, willed to redeem it by the coming of your Only Begotten Son, grant, we pray, that those who confess his Incarnation with humble fervour may merit his company as their Redeemer." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Amen.