Readings: 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Genesis 21:1-21; Galatians 4:21 – 5:1
Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.
There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very profoundly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail.
The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.”
I Samuel 2:1-10, NRSV
Hannah spent years hoping for a child, but remained childless. When she finally conceived, she gave her son back to God – a life given to her by God, a life given to God by her. Hannah gave Samuel back in a literal sense, losing the joy of raising him from infant to adult. It’s hard to understand such a sacrifice, but for the words of her prayer. Perhaps Hannah understood something even more fundamental than the bond between mother and child: that even the most intimate relationships have global repercussions. Who knows how the love of a mother for a son will transform the world well beyond the confines of their bond?
I hope Hannah’s prayer, her love for Samuel, and her willingness to give him back to God, brought hope to Mary when she had to do the same with her beloved son.