Friday, December 17, 2010

Fifth Advent Station -- The Song of Praise

of Hannah and Elkanah



Old Testament Scripture (1 Samuel 1: 19-20, 27-28; 2: 1-10)

They got up early in the morning and, after worshipping Yahweh, set out and went home to Ramah. Elkanah lay with his wife Hannah, and Yahweh remembered her. Hannah conceived and, in due course, gave birth to a son, whom she named Samuel, 'since', she said, 'I asked for him.'

This is the child for which I was praying, and Yahweh has granted me what I asked of him. Now I make him over to Yahweh for the whole of his life. He is made over to Yahweh.' They then worshipped Yahweh there.

Hannah then prayed as follows: My heart exults in Yahweh, in my God is my strength lifted up, my mouth derides my foes, for I rejoice in your deliverance. There is no Holy One like Yahweh,indeed, there is none but you no Rock like our God.

Do not keep talking so proudly, let no arrogance come from your mouth, for is a wise God, his to weigh up deeds.

The bow of the mighty has been broken but those who were tottering are now braced with strength. The full fed are hiring themselves out for bread but the hungry need labour no more; the barren womanbears sevenfold but the mother of many is left desolate.

Yahweh gives death and life, brings down to Sheol and draws up; Yahweh makes poor and rich, he humbles and also exalts.

He raises the poor from the dust, he lifts the needy from the dunghill to give them a place with princes, to assign them a seat of honour; for to Yahweh belong the pillars of the earth, on these he has poised the world.

He safeguards the steps of his faithful but the wicked vanish in darkness for human strength can win no victories.

Yahweh, his enemies are shattered, the Most High thunders in the heavens. Yahweh the ends of the earth, he endows his king with power, he raises up the strength of his Anointed.


Meditation


Prayer was the first of Hannah and Elkanah's duties. So often it is our last and most neglected. Prayer unites us to God himself in a communion of mind and heart. Prayer brings a confidence in knowing that all we ask for the Lord will grant, according to his loving plan of Divine Providence.

This is the confidence which Christ bestows on us in praying the prayer that he taught us: "thy kingdom come, thy will be done." The Father's will may not always be clear to us, but that should not inhibit our praise of his goodness. Prayers of praise constantly flow from the true believer's soul.



New Testament Scripture (Luke 1 39-56)

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah. She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.'

And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him. He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart. He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly. He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty. He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love -according to the promise he made to our ancestors -- of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.

Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.

Prayer
Lord, of life, you reveal to us the wonders of your love in the gift of newborn life. You gave Hannah and Elkanah the courage to ask for the gift of a child. Give us that same courage to ask for what we truly need. Give us also the ability to praise your goodness even in moments of difficulty and distress.

Help us to see your hand at work in our lives, always bringing us closer to yourself. May Mary's own song of praise echo in every moment of our life. May the depths of our souls praise you for ever. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice, rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

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