Monday of Week One, Ordinary Time
Saint Hilary of Poitiers, doctor of the Church.
Hilary (300-368) was so esteemed by the citizens of Poitiers that while still a married man, he was unanimously elected their bishop. At that time Arianism was threatening to overrun the Western Church; and Hilary played a major part in combatting this. He wrote to Emperor Constantius II against the ways by which the Arians tried to crush their opponents. For his decisive intervention in this crisis he is sometimes called “Malleus Arianorum” and the “Athanasius of the West.” He wrote a number of exegetical works and is one of the major Fathers of the Latin church.
First Reading. 1 Samuel 1:1-8
(Hannah is pitied for being childless, and her husband tries to comfort her.)
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. He 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.
Now 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. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?
Gospel: Mark 1:14-20
(Jesus begins proclaiming the reign of God and calling his first disciples.)
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.
Handing on the Faith
The Scriptures begin where we all begin, within the bonds of family life, with the development of hopes and planning for the future. The story of the prophet Samuel’s vocation began with his devout parents, as shown in today’s reading. The Bible shows a healthy respect for the normal ways of human nature. No spirituality that disdains the bonds of family can claim to be truly Biblical.
Still, there are times when God calls people to “Leave your country and your father’s house, and go the land that I will show you.” So it was for those working fishermen, whom Jesus called to leave their nets and their families, to travel the countryside with him, spreading his message of love and reconciliation. This Gospel leads us into a prayerful spirit. If at times Jesus may seem only vaguely present to us, he is still nearby, calling us to follow him, not in order to deprive us of ordinary human love, but to enrich and transform it. In the providence of God, transformations take place: Those Galilean fishermen were never the same again. And if to us Jesus says, “Follow me,” and we keep trying to respond generously, our life’s fulfilment will be safe in his guiding hands.