Reflection: Hannah prayed for the gift of a child

“I prayed for this child… . Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

Hannah had prayed fervently for the gift of a child, and God heard her prayer. Now she does something that seems difficult to understand: She leaves him with the priest Eli, offering him back to the Lord.

Why would Hannah give up a child she had so longed for? Be­cause she knew that she had given birth only because God had been gracious to her. She also understood that everything we have, everything we are, is a gift from God. Her of­fering of her son was the ultimate expression of her gratitude and love.

In only a few days, we will cel­ebrate the gift of the Christ child, God-made-man. God our Father sent his only Son to earth to be­come one of us. Like Hannah, he too gave up his only Son. Why would God do such a thing? It can only be understood through the lens of love. Only love would do such a thing.

How can we respond to such love? What will we say to our Fa­ther when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist? A simple “thank you” seems inadequate. But Hannah and another mother, Mary, can show us the way. We can freely give ourselves to the Lord.

It’s not easy to give our lives to the Lord. We may wonder: What will God ask me to do? Will I have to part with something I treasure? Just what will God do with this gift of self that I am giving to him?

Here is the best part of the Chris­tian life: When you give your life to the Lord, he takes it, fills it with his grace, and gives it back to you transformed. He makes your life overflow with love and joy, with peace and purpose. And as a result, you end up happier and more ful­filled than you ever were—even if you are called into a new and de­manding area of service, even as you take up the challenge to love your enemies and pray for those who per­secute you. That’s what the love of God can do!

So don’t hold back. Even if you’ve done it many times before, give your life to Jesus this Christ­mas. And watch to see how he gives it back to you.

“Jesus, take my life. Let it be yours completely.”
(Psalm) 1 Samuel 2:1,4-8; Luke 1:46-56

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