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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Samuel 1,9-20

When they had finished eating in the room, Hannah got up and stood before Yahweh. Eli the priest was sitting on his seat by the doorpost of the temple of Yahweh. In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to Yahweh with many tears, and she made this vow, 'Yahweh Sabaoth! Should you condescend to notice the humiliation of your servant and keep her in mind instead of disregarding your servant, and give her a boy, I will give him to Yahweh for the whole of his life and no razor shall ever touch his head.' While she went on praying to Yahweh, Eli was watching her mouth, for Hannah was speaking under her breath; her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard, and Eli thought that she was drunk. Eli said, 'How much longer are you going to stay drunk? Get rid of your wine.' 'No, my lord,' Hannah replied, 'I am a woman in great trouble; I have not been drinking wine or strong drink -- I am pouring out my soul before Yahweh. Do not take your servant for a worthless woman; all this time I have been speaking from the depth of my grief and my resentment.' Eli then replied, 'Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.' To which she said, 'May your servant find favour in your sight.' With that, the woman went away; she began eating and was dejected no longer. They got up early in the morning and, after worshipping Yahweh, set out and went home to Ramah. Elkanah lay with his wife Hannah, and Yahweh remembered her. Hannah conceived and, in due course, gave birth to a son, whom she named Samuel, 'since', she said, 'I asked Yahweh for him.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hannah’s anguish over her barrenness becomes a prayer to the Lord. She knows she can trust in God. She goes then to the temple at Shiloh and prays for a long time before the Lord, promising that if He were to grant her a son that she would consecrate him to Him. Hannah demonstrates not only total abandon to the Lord, but also a generous way of life: she does not ask for a son for herself, but that he may serve the Lord. She stood praying for a very long time, the sacred author notes, to highlight the great confidence she puts in the her Lord. And she knows that if her prayer is heard, that her son would be the fruit only of the Lord and His benevolence. The priest, Eli, who is watching her while she prays, thinks that she is drunk because her way of praying little resembled ritual; rather, her prayer was the cry of a desperate woman, not the worn out, monotonous recitation of customary formulas. Eli does not understand and reprimands Hannah. But she responds to him: "No, my Lord, I am a woman deeply troubled, I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord." Now Eli reassures and blesses her: "Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him." Hannah understands from Eli’s words that her prayer was heard and does not doubt "the fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Lk 1:45). Her grief and despair are erased. She is a new woman who was given back her life. The Lord blesses her body, as the Church Fathers say, because she believed in the Word of God. Hannah knows well that Samuel is given to her from the Lord out of His mercy.


01/12/2016
Memory of the Mother of the Lord


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