Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 1:1-8; Mark 1:14-20)
It is, of course, easy to criticize characters of the Bible according to contemporary mores. We could wave a finger at Elkanah in the first reading today for having two wives. Is not marriage an exclusive covenant between two people? Why can’t Elkanah, a seemingly pious man, be satisfied with one woman? Hannah, also, from today’s morality seems petulant. “Sure, it’s disappointing not to have children,” we might tell her, “but it is not the end of the world. Why not dedicate yourselves to some of the orphans that lived in your time.”
Such criticisms not only are made without an appreciation of biblical conditions; they also miss what the biblical author means to tell us. God is about to act in this couple’s life just as He gave the aged Sara a son bringing hope that the promise made to Abraham would be fulfilled. We should also hear in Elkanah’s gentle plea to Hannah an echo of God’s call to each of us when we feel ignored or disliked by others. God implores us in our consciences not to dwell on the rejection because we have Him, who is not just ten but ten thousand times better than anyone else (actually infinitely better). Laying our burdens in His hands by faithful prayer we will find our sorrow turning to joy.