1st Week in Ordinary Time
I was only pouring out my troubles to the Lord.
Communication is vital to good relationships, but we don’t tend to think about communication when it comes to our faith. That’s too bad, because Christianity is all about relationships, beginning with our relationship with God but also including our relationships within our church and among our loved ones.
Some saints have been blessed to hear God speaking to them in visions, burning bushes, or angelic interventions. But in today’s first reading (1 Samuel 1:15), we see Hannah communicating with God the way that most of us do, through prayer—and hearing him speak in a way that most of us can relate to, through another person.
In the story, Hannah was praying so fervently that the priest Eli believed she was drunk and chastised her for it. Eli’s mistake is a classic case of poor observation leading to poor communication. Just a quick glance gave Eli all the information he thought he needed to know about Hannah, so he blundered in, embarrassing both himself and this poor woman.
Fortunately, Eli’s blunder was short-lived. He listened humbly when Hannah corrected him and offered her his blessing. What could have been a contentious confrontation became a moment of connection and grace. Hannah returned home and “no longer appeared downcast” (1 Samuel 1:18).
Hannah’s ability to connect with Eli and find compassion from him brought peace to her troubled heart. It also helped convince her that God looked upon her with just as much compassion, and even more. So when Hannah realized that she was finally pregnant, she didn’t just celebrate her good fortune; she offered God a prayer of gratitude and praise (see today’s responsorial psalm).
Hannah’s story teaches us a lesson: take your worries to God in prayer, and be open to hearing him answer through someone else. A kind word, an attentive ear, or a gentle course correction—God uses all these and more to reach us. That’s why we can’t expect to hear God only in mystical experiences. We also need to listen carefully to the people around us.
God has a message for you today. So of course, pray. But also listen—closely, humbly, and constantly.
“Lord, help me to see your face and hear your voice today.”
(Psalm) 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-8