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January 9, 2018 - Hannah's Prayer

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Within the first couple of verses of our reading for today in 1 Samuel we encounter Hannah. She is very upset and weeping.

Why is she weeping? To find out, let’s go to the previous eight verses (which open the book).

There we learn that Hannah is married to Elkanah. We also learn that Elkanah has a second wife, Peninnah. The “good news” for Hannah (if you can call it that since she is married to a man with a second wife) is that Elkanah loves her. The bad news is that she has not given him any children. The even worse news is that Peninnah has. Perhaps the worst news of all is that there is no reason for Hannah to hope that she will become pregnant soon. The “just-keep-trying” adage rings hollow for Hannah since, according to verse five, “the Lord had closed her womb.” All of this is brought home to Hannah in so many ways, to be sure. Just one of them comes to her via Peninnah who reminds Hannah regularly that Hannah has come up woefully short. While Peninnah may be the second wife, Hannah (by virtue of her barrenness) is the second-class wife.

No wonder she is so upset and weeping when we encounter her in the text before us today. And with so much set against her, what does she do?

She prays.

Now, that might seem like a reasonable thing for a woman in a very bad position to do. But remember: it was God who “had closed her womb.”

Still, she prays.

And even as she is misunderstood by the priest at the temple who thinks she is drunk, she remains resolute in her faith. She asks the very God (who in verse five “had closed her womb”) to give her a son.

And God hears. And God answers. And the answer is her son, Samuel.

Hannah’s faith is so inspiring that the only way I can think to conclude is with a prayer.

Merciful God who defies all understanding and whose grace exceeds all understanding, help us to have the faith of Hannah. When nearly everything seems stacked against us, may we be like her. May we pray and know that you will hear. You will answer. Amen.

- Sue Trollinger