Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Israel's Solution

Daily Readings
Psalm 90 + I Samuel 1 + Tobit 11 + Mark 11

Quote of the Day
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

Daily Text: I Samuel 1:1-6, 9-11, 24-28
There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. 4On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; 5but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. 6Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.
9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD.* Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. 10She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. 11She made this vow: ‘O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite* until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants,* and no razor shall touch his head.’ 24When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,* an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh; and the child was young. 25Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26And she said, ‘Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. 27For this child I prayed; and the LORD has granted me the petition that I made to him. 28Therefore I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is given to the LORD.’
She left him there for* the LORD.

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Israel’s Solution
If the presupposition of the Book of Judges was that a king was certainly needed, because the people had sunk to a level of unfaithfulness to the LORD, then we have ample motivation for creating a new book, Samuel, to carry on the story. For Samuel begins with no hope, no word from God, a woman, Hannah who is barren, persecuted by her fruitful adversary, Penninah. Hannah carries the plight of Israel in her own story. This suggestion follows Brueggemann [430:12 ]. God’s gift to her is Samuel, God’s gift to Israel. The last of the judges, yes, but kingmaker as well, and king is the sought after solution to Israel’s problem. Eventually, for the Deuteronomist, David becomes king and the solution of a godly king, who raises the worship of the LORD to covenantal heights in Jerusalem as the ultimate solution.

Hannah is barren, though loved. Think Israel. Hannah goes with her husband and his second wife and children to the yearly festival of the LORD in Shiloh. Elkanah shares his festival offering with the women and children in his family, something not always done. He gives a portion to his second wife and her children, but he gives a special portion to Hannah. That portion is referred to in the Hebrew as ‘one portion, a face….’ My suggestion is that it means a choice portion, like breast from chicken rather than a leg! It is known that the principal persons at a feast receive the choicest morsels and my suggestion is that this is extended to Hannah and not to Penninah, because Elkanah loves Hannah. Again, Hannah prefigures Israel who is the LORD’s choice one, though not doing as well as the surrounding nations. Elkanah loves her more than ten sons! This may also suggest that Samuel is God’s gift to Israel, the man of God, the faithful one, more faithful than a king.

How often the gift of God to us comes in an unrecognizable package. If we are listening and waiting and praying as was Hannah, we may come to recognize the gift as God’s answer. All too often we do not, as Israel did not.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

Hope
Christopher Smart

Ah! Hannah, why shouldst thou despair,
Quick to the tabernacle speed;
There on thy knees prefer thy prayer,
And there thy cause to mercy plead.

Her pious breathings now ascend,
As from her heart the sighs she heaves;
And angels to her suit attend,
Till strong in hope she now conceives.

Then Samuel soon was brought to light
To serve the LORD, as yet a child—
O what a heart-reviving sight!
Sure cherubims and seraphs smiled.

Thus yet a child may I begin
To serve the LORD with all my heart,
To shun the wily lures of sin,
And claim the prize, or e’er I start.
[395:192]

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.

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