Reflection for Monday, January 10, 2000: 1st week in Ordinary Time.
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Today's readings mark Monday of the First Week of the Year or Monday of "Ordinary Time." The liturgical calendar marks a return to the day-to-day, which parallels our lives returning to the ordinary after Christmas and the new millennium celebrations. In many ways, it can feel like a let-down. But listen to today's Gospel proclamation: "This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the good news!" (Mark 1:14)|What does it mean for us on this "ordinary" Monday that this is the time of fulfillment? How are we called to believe in the good news and reform our lives?|I would like to consider this through looking at the first reading from the book of Samuel. The story portrays Elkanah and his two wives: Penninah who had children, and Hannah who was childless. Elkanah would provide for his wives and children, and in addition he would also give "a double portion" to Hannah "because he loved her." Penninah, in contrast, would torment Hannah because she was barren and Hannah would "weep and refuse to eat." Elkanah responded, "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you refuse to eat? ... Am I not more to you than ten sons?"|This tender story reveals our own hearts and our own relationships. Consider first the beautiful love of this husband providing for his family, and giving "a double portion" to Hannah in her barrenness. He did not consider her less important; in fact, he loved her deeply. Look also at what diminishes how Hannah experiences this love. She is taunted by Penninah, the one who has "more." Certainly Hannah experiences sadness and loss at being barren, but the most hurtful pain comes from agreeing inside herself with the accusing voice that says she is less because she does not produce life as she should. Finally, her husband grieves that she cannot let his love for her comfort her and console her, assuring her that in her barrenness she is completely loved.|Here lies the good news for our own hearts to receive. On this "ordinary" Monday, the Lord is eager to assure us that He wants to give us a "double portion"-just because He loves us. The invitation for you and I is to receive this love in today's events, encounters, and experiences. But what prevents us from doing this? We see it in Hannah when she listens and agrees with accusing voices that says she is less. Inside ourselves, these voices often surround what we have or don't have, what we accomplish or don't accomplish, in short, how we don't measure up-to others, to ourselves or to what we think God expects of us. But the Good News boldly proclaims that God loves us as we are with no expectations, no accomplishments and -even more precisely- IN our weakness and failures. I suspect that her husband longs for Hannah to turn away from looking at her emptiness and turn toward him to let him love her there. That's God's invitation for us today: to turn away from looking at what doesn't matter to Him, to look toward Him that we might know His love for us as we are.|"Reform your lives and believe in the good news!" Let us turn toward the One who loves us beyond our imaginings and believe that He truly loves us-not when we get it all right or fixed but today, just as we are on this "ordinary" Monday.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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