Tuesday of the First Week of Ordinary Time (January 11th, 2016)

The first scripture readings for Mass for the next few days will be excerpts from the Old Testament Book of Samuel.

The Book of Samuel is the story of how the tribes of the Israelites were united to become a great and powerful kingdom. This all began with a man of authority and insight by the name of Samuel. Samuel’s mother was a woman named Hannah, and she was for many years unable to conceive a child and it was presumed by others that she would never know the joy of having a child of her own. This grieved her deeply and she gave herself over to prayer, petitioning God to grant her a child, and eventually, she did have a child, Samuel, whom she considered to be a gift from God.

Each child conceived in the womb and born into the world is a gift from God. As Pope Benedict once testified, “each of us is necessary”, which means no one is here by accident and no one is expendable. God has a plan and a purpose for everyone. Sometimes this plan or purpose is not easy for us to discern, and in this case, we should imitate Hannah, and give ourselves over to prayer, begging God for answers that are not easy to accept or insights in regards to things that are just too hard for us to comprehend.

Prayer is not simply about getting what we want, but if our prayer is authentic and sincere, it will help us to discern what it is that God would like for us to do. It is in discerning what God wants and accepting his will that we can find not only purpose, but peace.

The Gospel of Mark presents a frightening scene today in which the Lord Jesus is confronted by an “unclean spirit”, and by this is meant a spiritual power that is opposed to God. These spiritual powers are called devils or demons.

Most people are curious about such things, but the point of today’s Gospel is not simply to provoke curiosity about devils or demons, but to demonstrate to us that the Lord Jesus has power over such things and has come to rescue us from their influence.

There are many things in life that are frightening, things visible and invisible, natural and supernatural. Heaven and earth are full of powers that are greater than our selves. Christ the Lord reveals that though we should be rightly cautious, even fearful of such things, we can also have courage, inasmuch as he is the all powerful God who is also our friend and who fights on our behalf and has come to rescue us from not only dark powers, but also from being overcome by fear.

In the midst of all the dangerous facts and troubling situations of life, Christ insists that he will be with us, and as such, we need not be overcome with fear, but we can face the challenges of each and every day with a sense of courage.

Indeed, as the Apostle Paul testifies- we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us.

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