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Courage to Speak Joy!

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28

In those days,
Hannah brought Samuel with her,
along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine,
and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull,
Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
“Pardon, my lord!
As you live, my lord,
I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD;
as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.”
She left Samuel there.

Responsorial Psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8ABCD

R. (see 1a) My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The LORD puts to death and gives life;
he casts down to the nether world;
he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich,
he humbles, he also exalts.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

Gospel: Luke 1:46-56

Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months
and then returned to her home.

NAB

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Of course we all want joy. We want to be happy, but joy can often feel frightening. If we really feel and experience our joy, will that good thing go away or be taken away from us? It’s almost like we don’t always give ourselves permission to be happy for the good things we’ve received. Even within our culture it can seem more socially acceptable to talk about things that upset and irritate us, rather than to speak about things that actually make us smile.

The women of today’s readings do not let the vulnerability of joy get in the way of speaking about what makes them happy. They unashamedly speak their praise and gratitude to God. Hannah after years and years of begging God for a child, praises the Lord for granting her request. In the Gospel, the Blessed Virgin Mary encounters Saint Elizabeth and sings her song of praise to God for the great things He has done for both her and her cousin. She boldly proclaims, “My spirit rejoices in God” and “The Lord has done great things for me!” The women of today’s readings bravely feel their joy and do not hide their happiness. They have no fear to speak their praise and gratitude to God.

Each one of these women mentioned in today’s readings was not without great suffering. Hannah and Saint Elizabeth bore the agony (and humiliation among Jewish women at that time) of infertility for years and years, and we know that Mary suffered numerous sorrows in her life culminating in the pain of remaining present to her Son’s Passion and Death. But these sufferings do not keep them from experiencing joy or praising God for the goodness of His blessings. And possibly, it is through their sufferings that their joy overflows more abundantly.

What about you? What has the Lord done for you? Even if you are currently in a period of suffering, longing, or uncertainty if your prayers will be answered, is there something that is good to thank God for even in the midst of your challenging journey?

The women of today’s readings bravely feel their happiness and proclaim it in praise and gratitude to God. May we too have the courage to feel joy, for the Lord has truly done great things for us!

My prayer for you today is that you will have the courage to lift an upward glance, a soft smile, or a lighter heart to God in gratitude for something good you have experienced recently. Together, may our “hearts exult in God!”

Mary Catherine Craige is a lover of creativity and learning new things. She enjoys teaching children, creating art and music, and helping others live their lives more fully. You can find out more about her here.

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