22 Dec. Thursday of the 4th Week of Advent
1 Samuel 1:24ff. Samuel’s mother, Hannah, dedicates her young son to a life of service to God.
Luke 1:46ff. Mary’s hymn of praise and thanksgiving, the Magnificat.
A Dedicated Life
Having longed for a son, and being finally blessed with the boy Samuel, the grateful mother, Hannah, wants nothing more than that he serve the Lord all his days. Her prayer is very touching: “I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” Dedication to God is the highest purpose of life, and it can be pursued in many and various ways. In our Catholic tradition, we honour Mary’s as the hightes example of totally devoted life, apart from and parallel to her son’s complete self-giving. The most perfect expression of Mary’s dedicated heart is found in today’s lovely hymn of praise, the Magnificat. Here we see her rejoicing in the God who has filled the hungry with good things, and raises up the lowly.
Saint Bede the Venerable, wrote of the Magnificat: “When one devotes all his thoughts to the praise and service of the Lord, he proclaims God’s greatness. Observance of God’s commands, moreover, shows that we have God’s power and greatness always at heart. Our spirit rejoices in God the saviour and delights in the mere recollection of our creator who gives us hope for eternal salvation.
This is especially so for the Mother of God. She alone was chosen, and she burned with spiritual love for the son she so joyously conceived. Above all other saints, she alone could fully rejoice in Jesus, her saviour, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her son and her Lord. Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and who fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.
First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
When 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. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And 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. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore 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.
Gospel: Luke 1:46-56
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.