1Sm 1:9-20; 1Sm 2:1,4-8; 1Thes 2:13; Mk 1:21-28
Both Hannah and Mary rejoice in victory. Hannah proclaims: “My heart exults in the LORD!” Mary proclaims: “My soul magnifies the LORD!” Both are moved to the very depths at the wonder of God’s love and saving power. Hannah prays in the sight of an old priest with copious tears. Mary prays in the sight of an archangel with a painful question, “how can I do this I have no husband?” Both women are able to surrender to the will of God, and trust in the power of the Most High. It is this power to save us from sin and evil that reveals itself in the ministry of the Lord Jesus. He has come “God With Us” to set us free from the darkness that threatens us at every turn. His very name means, “The LORD saves us,” and this promise fulfills the cries of Hannah and the query of Mary. When we rely upon the LORD, our prayers are answered and our questions receive replies. We, too, rejoice in the victory of the One who comes to save us by the power of His Name.
At first the priest, Eli, misinterprets the desperate barren wife, Hannah. He observes her lips moving, but her voice is so soft that he cannot hear her words. He is deaf to the prayer of this hurting woman. It seems to Eli that Hannah is drunk. Hannah, however, is deeply serious about her petition. She makes a solemn vow to God: “O LORD of hosts, if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid, if you remember me and do not forget me, if you give your handmaid a male child, I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives; neither wine nor liquor shall he drink,
and no razor shall ever touch his head.” Such a state of mind, such a desperate woman, makes a vow. She is willing to make a return to the LORD for all his goodness to her. She is willing to give up, to sacrifice the very joy of her life—the son for which she prays. This vow reveals the depths of Hannah’s trust in the will of God. She knows that God alone can take away her sorrow. Hannah knows that the LORD will receive her generosity and give the whole people the prophet they need to replace the deaf and dying priest, Eli, whose sons are not only deaf to the needs of God’s People but use their misery to make themselves rich. The son of Hannah replaces the sons of Eli. A faithful prophet of the LORD replaces corrupt priests. Not only does the barren Hannah exalt; the whole nation exalts in the LORD who saves them.
In today’s gospel the demon cried out the Name, “Jesus of Nazareth.” However, it was not in praise; it was in terror that the demon cried out. This was not the witness that the Lord Jesus wanted. He did not want to be recognized and proclaimed by the demons. So, without much ado, he dispatched this noisy demon. “Quiet! Come out of him!” Jesus is the LORD, and his word—even his thought is enough to command any and all of the evil ones. The crowd reacts with awe and wonder at his power, and his reputation spreads all over the countryside. We are not to be caught up in fear at the presence of evil in our world, and we are capable commanding the evil one to silence and to departure in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth. Without giving glory to the demon and without attempting to struggle with the evil one on our own, we trust in the Name of the LORD, and we rejoice in the victory of the Lord Jesus.