Both the first reading and the Gospel are stories of thanksgiving. Hannah’s story is a wonderful example of how one should return everything one receives as a gift from God right back to Him. Hannah desired a son so desperately that she humbled herself to the Lord. She kept pleading for a son, so much that the prophet Eli actually mistook her ardor for drunkenness. God saw Hannah’s heart and granted her humble and sincere request to bring forth Samuel.
Everyone has deep desires like Hannah had. God knows these desires of our hearts and wants to fulfill them. He might not fulfill them in the way we think they should be or in a way we even want them fulfilled. Regardless of how God chooses to answer our prayers, it is important that we thank Him. It is easy to forget that everything we have done and every breath we take are gifts from God.
Mary provides the perfect example of how we should give thanks to the Lord every day. We don’t know what deep desires she held in her heart, but it can be assumed she did not want to conceive a child before marriage. The judgment and ridicule she endured must have been difficult to bear. She never lost faith in her Lord, however; instead, she praised Him for His wonders and miracles.
God’s plan for our lives rarely resembles the ones we have for ourselves. We struggle to release our hopes and dreams to the Lord, but thanks to Hannah and especially Mary, we have a guarantee that by humbling ourselves to His will, He will in turn make miracles of our lives. As we prepare for Christmas, we give thanks for the gift of our Savior and the Lord’s Son, but we should also give thanks for our own lives. Each one of us is destined to play a crucial role in the Lord’s plan. Hannah showed her thanksgiving by giving her son back to the Lord. Mary showed hers by agreeing to bring forth a child while still unwed, subjecting herself to the scorn of the people in her village. What can we give back to the Lord in thanksgiving this Christmas?