The first reading today, the feast of the Holy Family, the first Sunday of Christmas, comes from the first book of Samuel.
In this season when we remember and give thanks for the birth of Jesus, the story of Samuel reminds us that the birth of Jesus reveals its deeper meaning when we remember those events of revealed salvation history that have preceded it. Jesus brings to fulfilment all that has been promised, and all the good that has been attempted.
Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’
When a year had gone by, the husband Elkanah went up again with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfil his vow. Hannah, however, did not go up, having said to her husband, ‘Not before the child is weaned. Then I will bring him and present him before the Lord and he shall stay there for ever.’
When she had weaned him, she took him up with her together with a three-year old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’
1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28
Jesus is also the anticipation and enabler of our fulfilment. It is by him and with his graceful assistance that we are able to keep trying to make ourselves ‘over to the Lord’.
That phrase can seem constraining, limiting, diminishing. Yet our potential is itself God’s gift. He longs not for our diminishment, and does not wish to rob us of his very gift. Quite the contrary: it is in our communion with him, ever-deepening, ever-developing, that we find ourselves, and receive that precious gift so to as most fully live it.
- What does constrain you?
- What does diminish you?
- In what way does God call you to greater fullness?
Altar and Ambo, Dresden. (c) 2005, Allen Morris