Tuesday, 9 January 2018 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the moment when Hannah, the mother of the judge and prophet Samuel, prayed to the Lord and asked Him to grant her wish to have a child. As some background information, Hannah was one of the two wives of Elkanah, as mentioned in the Book of the prophet Samuel. While Penninah, the other wife had many children with Elkanah, but Hannah had none, and Penninah often ridiculed Hannah and bullied her.

In order to understand the full gravity of what had happened at that time, we have to understand that for the Jewish people, marriage and family is considered a blessing from God. And having children through marriage is an obligation, as according to the Book of Genesis, God Himself commanded mankind to go forth and multiply, through marriage and by giving birth to their children.

Therefore, there was a great prejudice against those who were barren and without children, as a kind of social stigma, which partly explained why Penninah gloated over Hannah, and why Hannah was so upset that she was not able to bear a child to Elkanah, while Penninah bore many children in return. And Hannah prayed sincerely to God, begging Him to listen to her pleas, and God, Who knew all that He would do through her, answered Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son, Samuel.

Then, in the Gospel today, we heard of how Jesus Our Lord cast out demons and evil spirits from a man who was possessed by them. He commanded with great authority and power, and the evil spirits had no choice but to obey Him. They went out from the man and the possessed man was thus healed completely from his troubles. God showed His loving and tender care through the power and authority of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In each of the stories that we heard today, both regarding Hannah and the man who was possessed by the evil spirits, we heard of people who were downtrodden and suffering. One of them suffered from humiliation and constant bullying, while the other one suffered from possession by the evil spirits, and God rescued all of them by His mighty deeds, bringing them into His saving grace.

We can see through what we have witnessed in the Sacred Scriptures, that God is always loving and faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us mankind. He will protect the weak, the lowly and the downtrodden, while bringing down and destroying the plans of the proud, the wicked, the haughty and all those who had no concern for their fellow brothers and sisters.

He has released us mankind from the chains of sin which prevented us from truly being able to reunite with Him, just as He has released Hannah from the chains of her humiliation and barrenness, and how He has released the possessed man from the chains imposed on him by the evil spirits. He has given us a new hope and light, where there was once darkness and despair. He has given us a new love, where there was once bitter hatred and anger.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, today each and every one of us are called to follow the Lord, and to learn to put our complete trust in Him. For it is in Him alone that we will receive true satisfaction and perfect fulfilment of all that we will ever need in life. Let us pray fervently to the Lord, like what Hannah had done, and give all of our heart to Him, opening ourselves to receive His love and grace.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to love us as He has always done, and guide us on our journey of faith towards Him. May He give us the strength and courage that we need, in order to persevere through the difficult moments and challenges we will surely encounter on our way. May God bless us always and be with all of our endeavours. Amen.

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