January 10, 2012 - Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Presumption is the source of such great evil in our world. People presume that they understand another’s motivations. People presume that they know what is going on. They judge their neighbor. What an example we have today, when Eli, the head priest, walks up to Hannah and starts reprimanding her publicly for being drunk when actually she was praying. And Eli was a righteous man. He was a good priest. But what he did here was wrong.

We give priests great honor, which is right since they stand in the person of Christ. Jesus forgives our sins through the ministry of the priest. He turns bread and wine into his Body and Blood through the words of the priest. The priest inasmuch as he is a priest, is Jesus Christ, but inasmuch as he remains himself, he is a fallen man like any of us. The problem is, how do we give so much respect to a person’s office while still being ready to ignore and forgive or even condemn the man for what he does and says?

People have left the faith because of words that a priest spoke. Perhaps what the priest said was right, perhaps it was wrong, but they hurt. They were hurt by a priest, so they turn away from the Church. It does not make any logical sense: whether a priest has offended us has nothing to do with whether Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior, but these people are not thinking logically. They have been hurt, so they want to exercise what power they can against the one who has hurt them.

What good does this do? I am hurt, so I react with anger and hurt someone else or just hurt myself. This does not make the world a better place. What is needed is humility, and Hannah provides such an example of humility. She would have been fully justified in letting Eli have it, either to his face or by leaving and grumbling about it later. Instead she humbly insists that his accusation is untrue and explains herself. If Eli had had Hannah’s humility, he would have been more careful. What we need is humility before we hurt other and humility when others hurt us. What we need is humility.