Daily Reflection
December 22nd, 1999
Dan O'Reilly
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1 Samuel 1:24-28
1 Samuel 2:1, 4-8
Luke 1:46-56

Well, the great day is almost upon us and the Advent season is almost over.  And what an interesting season it is.  It’s a season of extremes for me.  “Gimme, gimme, gimme, mine, mine, mine.”  “Is my VISA card maxed out?”  The umpteenth toy catalog.  The selfish commercialism of the season brings me to a point of cynicism where I want to throw up.  And yet, a familiar carol brings wonderful memories flooding back.  Watching the nativity scene in a children’s program brings tears to my eyes.  Thinking of the incredible gift of God’s son fills my heart with wonder and joy.

In today’s scriptures, Hannah and Mary show themselves to be incredible women of faith who understand God’s gifts and the joy they bring.  In 1 Samuel, Hannah prays so hard for a son that Eli the priest thinks she’s drunk.  And when the son, Samuel, arrives, you would think that Hannah would be like a child on Christmas morning.  “Thanks for the gift, now nobody better lay a finger on it.”  Instead of being the hovering, possessive mother, Hannah gives the child back to God.  Now, being the father of a 15 year old, I understand the desire of giving a child back to God.  However, I have a sneaking suspicion Hannah and I aren’t on the same wavelength here.  Hannah recognizes that Samuel is a gift from God.  Her response to this wonderful gift is to offer God sacrifices and praise and to give the child “to the Lord for his whole life.”  What an incredible sacrifice.  And yet she gives this gift with joy in her heart and praise on her lips.  If only I could come close to such faith.

Mary, likewise, recognizes herself as a humble servant who has been blessed by the Lord.  I try to put myself in Mary’s place and think how I would react.  My guess is I would be calling the Pregnancy Crisis hotline and asking “why me?”  I’d be thinking God could have chosen a little more wisely.  Wouldn’t it have been better if Jesus had been born to a queen?  Or someone with a great deal of wealth and a good PR man?  No.  God chose Mary.  And isn’t God’s wisdom amazing.  Of all the women in the world that God could have chosen, he picked Mary.  The poor, frightened, young girl.  The woman with a heart for God.  The perfect choice.  

God has blessed me in so many ways.  Yet I’m quite sure that if God gave me half the task that he was giving Mary, I doubt that I would greet this news with praise and rejoicing.  My prayer is that I would have a heart for God half as big as Mary’s.  Here’s wishing everyone a blessed and merry Christmas.

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