Today is a very special day for me. It is my wife and my anniversary! We have been married for two years and her companionship has made the struggles of the past two years joyful. In Scripture, there are many references to the reality that if you cannot love those in front of you whom you can see, how can you claim to know and love God. The inverse of that is true as well, when we show kindness, mercy, and love we reveal what God has first shown us. It is through this lens that I wish to share with you my reflections on today’s readings.
In our First Reading today, we see the critical moment of Hanna’s fidelity to God when she is accused of being a drunkard in her misery. Her response reveals that she does not take offense to these harsh words. Let’s stop for a moment and think about this; she was misunderstood and treated roughly when she was at her lowest low, crying before God. If this were you, crying and praying your heart out and a priest, a friend, or another Christian came up to you and accused you of being a drunk, what would your response be? Hanna’s response was one of security, she did not start fighting with Eli the priest and judge but rather explained herself and asked him to pray with her. This carries weight in my eyes because in the midst of her suffering she was courageous enough to be vulnerable with God and let God comfort her and that reality is shown by her vulnerability with the priest even after his roughness. Her relationship with God is shown through her response to Eli. But the story does not stop there, God remembers Hanna’s prayer. This word is used in describing how the Passover was supposed to be done as well as our Mass. “Remember” is used to enter back into the reality of the experience and relive it. God, from that partnership, answered her prayer for a child.
The Gospel reading reveals an interesting truth, it takes more than acknowledging that Jesus is God to be saved. The demon in the man 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!” It acknowledges Jesus as the Holy One of God but in fear and hatred. Jesus then gives freedom to that man who was possessed by the demon. But it was not just freedom for freedom’s sake. It was freedom to be able to say with love and familiarity, ‘My Lord and my God, I am loved by you, you see me and know my suffering.’ In other words, we cannot sit back and say Jesus is God, Jesus needs to be my Lord. The relationship needs to be personal. If you doubt this, look back at the Psalm. The Church has us repeat, “My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.” That is a deeply personal proclamation that reveals the love in our hearts in response to God’s liberating love. If you are reading this, there is already a drive to grow closer to God. But I want to encourage you to dive even deeper into Jesus’ love for you. Be encouraged by these two witnesses of God’s love today and do not hold back from what he has in store for you!
Featured Image Credit: Anna Shvets, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-babys-hand-3845456/
Arthur Richardson is married to his wonderful wife, Gabby Richardson. They will be married for two years this January! Most of his work experience is in ministry. He was a retreat missionary in Wisconsin for two years and a youth minister for three years. He is now the Web Project Manager here at Diocesan, and loves it!