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First Week of Ordinary Time

Sam. 1:9-20 & Mk. 1:21-28.

Hannah was a devout woman whose life was complete except for one thing - she had borne no children. It was a public shame and a private curse to be barren in Old Testament times. The ancient Jew's answer to the problem of death was to live on in one's own children, but if no children came, then there was no hope of personal immortality. Hannah had often taken her problem to God in prayer.

Each year when her husband made the pilgrimage to the shrine at Shiloh, Hannah would pray earnestly that God would give her a child. On this particular visit, she promised God that if He gave her a son, she would dedicate him to His service. Having made this prayer, she returned home with a calm mind and a light heart. Hannah had done the right thing. She had taken her burden to God and left it there before Him.

There are times in our prayers of petition when we must do exactly the same, and take our burden to God and leave it with Him. We know that God welcomes all prayers of petition. They demonstrate our dependence on Him. Jesus Himself urged us to pray for the mundane necessities of life, like our daily bread, and the more important things like the coming of God's kingdom.

In fact Jesus urged His followers to be persistent in prayer, asking God for His guidance and blessing without ceasing. And yet, there comes a time when we must 'let go' of our problems. Repeated requests do not guarantee speedy results. The better part of faith is often to make our requests known and then forget about them, because God has a way of working things out if we stop worrying about them!

In today's Gospel we see Satan at work. In our modern world there are people who do not want to think of the Devil to avoid having to admit that he exists. But when we see so much evil perpetrated all over the world how can anyone deny the Devil's existence? Satan and his demons demonstrate in our world their hatred for God. They whisper lies and half-truths to bind us in fear or ignorance of God’s love. They tempt us with unclean thoughts, stir up discouragement in our lives and discord among our loved ones.

Do not doubt that Satan is powerful and fearsome! Yet as powerful as he is, the Devil is still a created being, finite in power and limited in his abilities. He cannot defeat God or His plans for His kingdom. We need to believe this, even as we trust that God in His mercy, will gently and powerfully guide us - and all human history – until Jesus comes again in glory.

Lord Jesus, let us respect all life and Your little children. Deliver everyone who is under the oppression of Satan: speak your truth to those who believe lies; heal those who are sick through demonic influence; shield those whom Satan tempts through lust, power, addiction or greed.

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