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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Samuel 1,1-8

There was a man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the highlands of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, one called Hannah, the other Peninnah; Peninnah had children but Hannah had none. Every year this man used to go up from his town to worship, and to sacrifice to Yahweh Sabaoth at Shiloh. (The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there as priests of Yahweh.) One day Elkanah offered a sacrifice. Now he used to give portions to Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; to Hannah, however, he would give only one portion: for, although he loved Hannah more, Yahweh had made her barren. Furthermore, her rival would taunt and provoke her, because Yahweh had made her womb barren. And this went on year after year; every time they went up to the temple of Yahweh she used to taunt her. On that day she wept and would not eat anything; so her husband Elkanah said, 'Hannah, why are you crying? Why are you not eating anything? Why are you so sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In the first four weeks of Ordinary Time of the even year, the Eucharistic liturgy proposes the reading of the first and second books of Samuel. At the end of the book of Judges, Israel is a community in religious decline (chapters 17-18) and in the throes of moral chaos (chapters 19-21), without having the ability, or rather the will, to get out of this situation. Israel occupies a small area of a few square kilometres at whose centre is Shiloh with the Ark of the Covenant. Surrounded by people ruled by kings, Israel asks for a king who can protect, defend, rally and liberate them. The entire book of Samuel is about Israel holding out for a king, David, who will establish his kingdom extending from Egypt to the Euphrates. The story of David’s kingship over Israel, however, starts with the story of a barren and embittered woman named Hannah (1:2). The story of Israel’s transition from difficulty to wellbeing does not begin with a grand theory, nor in a splendid palace, but with a childless woman without a future. In effect, Israel’s expectation (which will culminate with David) begins with this barren and desperate woman’s expectation. The author wants to emphasize that Israel’s future kingdom depends entirely on God. The family of Elkanah, who also had a great past as one can guess from its genealogy, however, is destined to have no future whatsoever. Furthermore, it seems that God wills Hannah’s barrenness. In short, the situation seems hopeless. To add insult to injury, Hannah’s rival, Peninnah, the second wife of Elkanah, ridicules her for her barrenness. At the sacrificial meals in the sanctuary, she probably pointed out to Hannah that her husband was giving her multiple portions (for her and her sons), whereas he was only giving one portion to Hannah. Despite her husband’s love, Hannah is terribly depressed and desperate, even to the point of losing her appetite. She understands that only the Lord can help her.

Memory of the Poor