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REFLECTION CAPSULE – Pslam 1, 1-8 & Mark 1, 14-20

REFLECTION CAPSULE

MEETING THE LORD IN THE DAILY SITUATIONS OF LIFE

AND DEPENDING ON HIM TOTALLY!

(Based on 1 Sam 1:1-8 and Mk 1:14-20 – 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1, Cycle A)

Two friends stood at a large railway station and watched an express-train with the most modern of engines go flying through.

“What a powerful engine!” remarked one of them to his friend, who was the station-master of that station.

“Yes”, said the station-master, who was a Christian, “On the rails!
>> But off the rails, it is the weakest thing in the world!”

“And”, he went on to add, “that’s how a Christian is!
>> His power lies in communion with His Lord, and being on the rail with the Church…
… but when he leaves the path of communion, he is the weakest person in the world!”

Do I understand that my strength as a Christian lies…
… in my communion with the Lord?
… and being on the rail with the Church?

Today onwards we are back to the Ordinary times of the Liturgical Season in the Church.
>> The Liturgical colours shifts from the solemn and majestic ‘golden and white’ colours to the ordinary, yet unassuming ‘green’.

It’s a time…
… to live the solemn celebrations in our regular affairs of life.
… to give witness to the majestic splendour of God’s love in our everyday activities.
>> The Lord, indeed, comes to meet and encounter us in the ordinary situations of our life.

The First Reading is taken from the Old Testament – from The First Book of Samuel
>> This book is a fascinating journey of faith in the context of hopelessness, lack of encouragements, battles, deceptions and undue demands!

We are introduced with some characters as we start this book:
“There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah… 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.” (1 Sam 1:1-3)

Who are some of these characters and what do they teach us?
1. Elkanah: A Levite – whose roots probably stretched back to Bethlehem –who  is a God-fearing man and a loving husband. His human circumstance however caused him to have a divided love and he failed to keep the family together.
>> “Am I a God-fearing person and do I fulfil the duties of my family?
>> Do I sometimes fail to preserve the unity in my family, by bowing to the circumstances of my life, instead of giving priority to the needs of my family?”

2. Hannah: Elkanah’s first wife, who was barren. She had to face a lot of humiliation and unjust criticism.
>> “Am I willing to trust in God even in times when I am unjustly criticized or made to go through the muddy waters of humiliation?”

3. Peninnah: Elkanah’s second wife, who had both sons and daughters. She is a person who mocks and derides at the unfortunateness in people, without being grateful to the Mercy of God!
>> “Do I swell up with pride and put down other people, without having any feelings of care and sensitivity?”

4. Eli: He is the priest of the Lord with his duties to take care of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord that was at a place called Shiloh (the structure at Shiloh was often called a temple because of the presence of the Ark)
>> “Do I remain faithful to all the duties entrusted to me, and do I have a passion for the Lord and His Kingdom?”

5. Hophni and Phinehas: The sons of Eli, who, as we read the book, will be found to be people who failed to live their faithfulness to the Lord
>> “Do I hold on to the Traditions of the Church and remain ever faithful to the Lord in serving Him – even when externally, situations don’t seem to nurture my faith?”

The reading of the day (1 Sam 1:1-8) focusses on Hannah who was barren.

The annual feast in particular was a time of harsh treatment for Hannah
>> As part of the ceremony of apportioning the meat out to the family, Elkanah, the husband, would give multiple portions of meat to Peninnah with all her sons and daughters…
…. but Hannah would normally only receive one portion for herself.
>> Out of the goodness of his heart, Elkanah tried to compensate by giving her a double portion…
… but it didn’t really help.

All such “happy occasions” became in fact, bitter reminders to Hannah!

Life sometimes is apparently quite harsh and humiliating…
… just like it was to Hannah!

In all such situations of our life, can we remain faithful and loyal to the Lord?
>> Do I realise that “without being on the rail of communion with the Lord, we are highly weak and fragile!”

In times when we become victims of jealousy, can we still hold on to the Lord “as the Pride and Pearl of our Life?”
>> In moments when we are sidelined and not given our due worth, can we bank on the Lord “as the Pillar and Foundation of our Life?”

We are invited, in our most desperate and painful situations, to trust that God is in control…
… and to find comfort in prayer!

This is what our Blessed Lord will tell the first disciples, when He would invite them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” (Mk 1:17)
>> The Lord, indeed, comes to meet and encounter us in the ordinary situations of our life.

The disciples were to leave their boats and nets…
… their strengths and assets
… their worries and concerns
>> And completely depend on the Lord and have Him as “the Pride and Pearl” and “the Pillar and Foundation” of their life.

May we understand that our strength, as a Christian, lies…
… in our communion with the Lord
… and being on the rail with the Church!

As St Paul says, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me!”…
… May we join with the Psalmist to offer our life to the Lord and tell: “I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord!” (Ps 116:17)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS
Bengaluru, India

——————————–
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ He will unfailingly be pleased with our patience…
… and take note of our diligence and perseverance!”
——————————–

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