The Institute for Christian Formation
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
In our First Reading at Mass today, Hannah has brought her young son Samuel to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. She will leave him there at the temple, in thanksgiving for having conceived and born a child (I Samuel 1:24-28). Our Responsorial Psalm is Hannah’s beautiful canticle of praise (I Samuel 2:1,4-7,8abcd).
Luke 1:39-45 tells of Mary traveling to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also pregnant (the Visitation.) In response to Elizabeth’s words to Mary in that passage, in today’s Gospel (Luke 1:46-56) we hear
Whether you prayer Vespers daily, or not, make Mary’s canticle part of your prayer each evening. In your journal, you might even write your own canticle of praise. Invite children to do the same, even if it is only one or two sentences. They could decorate a card with their canticle of praise in the center, and either post it in a place of prominence or save it to give to someone as a Christmas gift in a few short days!
And don't forget to include today's "O Antiphon" in your Advent prayer today. The O Antiphons are prayed beginning December 17 through December 23. They are prayed at Vespers, and may be used as the Gospel acclamation at Mass on these days. The O Antiphon for today is "King of All the Nations," or in Latin, "Rex Gentium." You can listen to today's antiphon in Latin below:
Hannah giving her son Samuel to the Priest
Jan Victors, 1645
Mary praise God in her own beautiful canticle, which we have come to call the Magnificat. This canticle is prayed by the Church each evening at Vespers, or Evening Prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2619, states, …the Canticle of Mary, the Magnificat (Latin) or Megalynei (Byzantine) is the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God; the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation and the song of the “poor” whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made to our ancestors, “to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.” As your Advent reflection today, read in the Bible the story of Hannah and Samuel’s birth (I Samuel 1:1 – 2:11). Then read Luke 1:46-55. Do you notice the similarities between Hannah’s song of praise and Mary’s? (You can learn more about this from Boston College.) As a Jew, Mary would have been brought up praying the songs of the Hebrew Scriptures, including Hannah’s song of praise. It is no wonder that her own words of praise took the structure of this beautiful song of her ancestor, Hannah. This image gives us a deep insight into the power of bringing children up knowing their faith roots.
As you end this Advent weekday, remember that the promise that God made to Abraham and his children forever, which Mary sings about in her canticle of praise, includes us. That is certainly something for which we should offer praise and thanksgiving!
Below is a reflection on today's O Antiphon.