January 11, 2022
by Cindy Murphy McMahon
Creighton University's Office of Marketing and Communications
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 306

Samuel 1:9-20
Psalm 2:1, 4-5, 6-7
Mark 1:21-28

Celebrating Christmas

Today’s first reading from the first book of Samuel turns our attention to Hannah, a faith-filled woman who loved God. Her prayer would set in motion key parts of salvation history, beginning with the birth of her son, Samuel, who would become a great prophet and leader.

But none of that is known to Hannah, or to anyone, at that time. She is simply a woman who believes in God and believes that God loves her, and who is not afraid to speak candidly from her heart to her God.

She was broken, desperate, bitter. But she didn’t let that brokenness, that bitterness, turn her away from God. She was turned even more toward God, an example we can learn from. It’s so easy to shut God out when we are depressed or bitter, to blame God, to give up. But Hannah didn’t give up. She knew where the grace she needed to live her life came from, and she turned toward the Giver.

And how did she pray? “…she remained long at prayer before the LORD, … Hannah was praying silently; though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard.” She poured out her heart to her God. She was not aware that anyone was watching her. She was alone with God in her heart and mind, and in her body, as her lips were moving. But Eli did see her and thought she was drunk. Her answer to his accusation: “I was only pouring out my troubles to the Lord. Do not think your handmaid a ne’er-do-well; my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.”

I believe this is the kind of prayer God wants from us. God doesn’t want us to carry our burdens and be sullen and resigned. God wants to give us comfort, compassion, relationship. I don’t believe God is saying that if we pray this way, we will always get what we think we want. In this case, Hannah did, conceiving a son. Instead, I find comfort in Hannah’s example of how to pray, how to relate to God.

God desires to share our pain, our disappointments. God wants us to know that, and wants to be the first place we turn. God wants us to physically know that the Giver of all gifts is real, and filled with endless compassion, understanding and great love. I believe that even if God had a different plan, and Samuel had not been born, Hannah would have left her time of prayer feeling heard by God and closer to God, and more ready to face the trials of her life. And she would have continued to pray that way, always growing closer to God along the way. May we always do the same.

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