Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

(I Samuel 1:24-28; Luke 1:46-56)

Looking at the first reading and the gospel today, we may feel hard-pressed to find a relationship.  “What does the account of Hannah’s delivering her son into the Lord’s service have in common with Mary’s praise of the Lord?” we might ask.  The answer is hidden.  If we refer to the first chapter of the First Book of Samuel we will find that Hannah next statement after dedicating her son to the Lord resembles Mary’s praise of God in the gospel.  Like Mary, Hannah tells of the mighty being humbled, the well-fed searching for bread, and the poor being lifted up.

Nevertheless, Mary does more in her prayer of praise then paraphrase the Old Testament.  More significantly, she interprets the preaching of her son which we have heard throughout this past year.  In Luke’s gospel Jesus reiterates continually the message of the wealthy being humbled and the poor being elevated, oppressors being silenced while the suffering are relieved.  Mary says something similar but pertinent to her situation.  God has shown favor to her, His lowly servant, by making her the bearer of His son.  Furthermore, he has rescued Israel by sending His Son as the nation’s savior.

Mary is doing the work of a preacher who brings to life God’s word in present circumstances.  It is not enough for a homilist to retell the gospel; he or she must apply it to contemporary times if listeners are to find hope in meeting present challenges.  Similarly we should share with others how we have found Christ’s message resonating in our lives.  For example, Jesus’ many blessings of the poor should move us to speak of how our encounters with them have been rewarding.