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First Week of Ordinary Time

1 Sam. 1:1-8 & Mk. 1:14-20

As people of faith, trying our best to live the faith each day, we are called upon to believe that God guides and directs our personal lives, as well as world events. At times to emphasis His providential care, God acts in extraordinary ways. One of His favourite ways is to surround, with unusual circumstances, the birth of certain persons who will be particularly instrumental in carrying out His plan.

Among them was Samuel. Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, was to become his mother. For years she was barren. She prayed to have a child but had come to the point of recognising that she would never be a mother, when God answered her prayer. Samuel was to be the last of the judges, those men and women who ruled Israel in God's name before the age of the lsraelite kings. In fact Samuel was to be the person mainly responsible for establishing the monarchy in Israel.

This event, and all the events of the Old Testament, are important because they form part of God's overall plan leading to the coming of His Son. The birth of Samuel was just as important to God's plan as was the pronouncement of Jesus at the start of His public ministry, "The time has come and the Kingdom of God is close at hand.” These two events, and all the events in the Old and New Testaments, were to form God's overall plan in establishing His Kingdom on this Earth.

Today God wants us to recognise that each of us is a part of His plan in this. There may not be any extraordinary intervention of God in our lives, but we are the beneficiaries of all that He has done in the history of salvation. By good and upright lives we, like Samuel and his mother, must play our part in establishing His kingdom on this Earth.

The Gospel of Saint Mark introduces us to Jesus' very first sermon. At the beginning of His ministry He wanted to make an impact on His audience, so He summed up His teaching in two words - 'Repent' and 'Believe'.

Repentance means a change of mind and heart, a completely new way of looking at things. So when Jesus calls us to repent He is asking us to look very closely at our attitudes and our behaviour. We are naturally drawn towards sin and so we need to be constantly reviewing our lives and making an effort to turn back onto the right track. We all know how difficult repentance can be, so what motivates us to keep on trying? Jesus gives the answer: our belief in Him.

There are many aspects of our faith that we find difficult to understand or explain. How could our human brains fully comprehend God, who is our Creator? But we can believe all these things because His Son founded a Church to which He gave authority to teach the truth. We should use our powers of reasoning as far possible, of course, but we can have confidence that Christ, in His Church, cannot teach error.

Since Christ tells us that the kingdom of God is very close, it is worth reminding ourselves of what this means. The kingdom of God is that society on Earth where God’s will is done as perfectly as it is in Heaven. We are part of that kingdom if we repent and believe.

Lord Jesus, may we obey Your Father’s will as perfectly as is possible, and so be members of His kingdom.

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