1 SAMUEL 1:20-22, 24-28
In those days Hannah conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son
whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him.
The next time her husband Elkanah was going up
with the rest of his household
to offer the customary sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vows,
Hannah did not go, explaining to her husband,
“Once the child is weaned,
I will take him to appear before the LORD
and to remain there forever;
I will offer him as a perpetual nazirite.”
Once Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him up 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.”
Hannah left Samuel there.
I love this story of Hannah and Samuel. Hannah is unable to have a child so she begs the Lord to hear her prayer. The Lord in His great mercy allows Hannah to conceive and bear a son and they named him Samuel. Incredibly she offers the child back to God. She gives Samuel to the priest, Eli, who raises Samuel in the temple of God. Samuel is dedicated to the Lord his whole life long.
I find this story so heart-warming and refreshing because Hannah realized that every good gift, even the blessing of this miracle child Samuel, comes from God and should return to God. This was the gift for which she prayed, for which she begged God. Yet, she was willing to give Him back to God. Samuel did many great things in his lifetime on behalf of the Lord.
In the Gospel today (Luke 2:41-52), we hear the story of Joseph and Mary finding the young Jesus in the temple. They had searched for Him for three days and were distraught. When they finally found Jesus, He says, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” As parents, Joseph and Mary loved Jesus with all their hearts. But they also loved God and they displayed throughout their lives that they put the will of God above all things.
As we celebrate Holy Family Sunday, we must ask ourselves, “What makes a family holy?” These stories of Hannah and Mary and Joseph teach us that holiness comes from always seeking the will of God above all things. In fact, the family should be the place in which each member of the family is encouraged to find their vocation, their purpose, God’s mission for them in this life. There is no better gift than parents can give their children.
In fact, the best marriages flourish when each person seeks God’s will above all else. The best friendships occur when the friends fall in love together with the same God. Do you want to make your family holy? Seek the will of God above all else and encourage your family members to do the same.
I remember telling my Dad that I felt called to the priesthood. He calmly asked me, “Do you think you can be happy being a priest?” I responded with a question, “How did you know Mom was the right one for you?” He said, “When I met your Mother in high school, I knew she was the one.” I smiled and said, “Dad, that is exactly how I feel. I can’t explain this, but I just feel in my heart that God created me to be a priest.” My Dad said, “I understand that feeling. You’ve got my support.”
My Dad and Mom were both helping me seek God’s will. And they weren’t even Catholic at the time! And now my Dad sees how joyful I am as a priest and he joined the Catholic Church about 3 years ago.
Do I seek the will of God above all else in my life?
Do I encourage my family members to seek God’s will?
Or do I seek my will over anything else?
Have a blessed Sunday. May each of our families grow in holiness now and throughout 2016.