First Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Sm 1:9-20
Hannah rose after a meal at Shiloh, and presented herself before the LORD; at the time, Eli the priest was sitting on a chair near the doorpost of the LORD’s temple. In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously, and she made a vow, promising: “O LORD of hosts, if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid, if you remember me and do not forget me, if you give your handmaid a male child, I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives; neither wine nor liquor shall he drink, and no razor shall ever touch his head.” As she remained long at prayer before the LORD, Eli watched her mouth, for Hannah was praying silently; though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli, thinking her drunk, said to her, “How long will you make a drunken show of yourself? Sober up from your wine!” “It isn’t that, my lord,” Hannah answered. “I am an unhappy woman. I have had neither wine nor liquor; 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.” Eli said, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” She replied, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and left. She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and no longer appeared downcast. Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD, and then returned to their home in Ramah. When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah, the LORD remembered her. She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a sonwhom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him.
Gospel: Mk 1:21-28
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
WHAT IS THIS?: In the first reading, Eli is surprised by Hannah and thinks she is drunk. Like Hannah, when life challenges (disappointments, troubles, false accusations, debts) push us to the wall, people wonder about our sobriety. Nevertheless. Eli changes and blesses Hannah once he understands her situation. He says to her, “Go in peace and may God listen to you”. More than Eli, Jesus grants us peace and liberation. In and through him we overcome life troubles. Jesus is our true priest and leader, and so he shows us his authority. While Eli uses his priestly authority to bless, Jesus uses his Divine authority to liberate and teach. By virtue of baptism every Christian is called to use this priestly authority to bless, liberate and teach. Sharing in the life of Jesus each of us is called to exercise this authority, rebuking all evil in the Name of Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, you who gave us authority to bind and loose, grant us the Spirit and courage to bless, teach and liberate others.
POWERFUL UTTERANCE: Evangelists always give great emphasis on the power of Christ’s word. Jesus spoke his word with firmness and authority because the words that he spoke are not his own, but of the Father who sent him. Jesus too recognized that the words he spoke were not his, but of the Father. We too are privileged to receive Christ’s word when we read the scriptures, listen to the proclamation of the word during liturgical celebrations and at other moments of prayer. However powerful the word may be, it will take effect in us only when we listen with an open heart and are willing to plant it in our heart and nurture it. We nurture the word when we act on them, that is by being ready to do God’s will and be ready to be challenged by the word.
LET US LIGHT THE LAMP OF FAITH: Throughout His teaching, Jesus demonstrates excellence in communication and in message delivery. God’s hand is always upon Him. His words therefore, resonate with conviction and authority, as he speaks. He is not like the scribes. To affirm the authority of the power in Jesus, the possessed one declares, “I know who you are The Holy one of God” (Mk 1: 24). With Jesus, the stage is set right for our human operation. We can only be real human beings when we operate in Jesus. It is only then that we are truly human. In this task, we realize ourselves fully as we care for others, live for them and spend our resources on them. This is the way to bring resolutions to most troubles in our world. Jesus is teaching a healing our infirmities, as he did to the man possessed. In order to be with Him, we have to be ready to break away from our selfishness. Let us acknowledge our faith in man’s goodness as destined by God, and work towards recapturing our lost innocence.