The canticle of Hannah, 1 Samuel 2: 1-10, is not heard much in the lectionary readings but is one of the most provocative prayers of the Hebrew scriptures. Today it is used as the response to the first reading.
A barren woman rejoices at the birth of her son – but her joy and her hope go beyond her good fortune. She sees a new world:
The LORD raises the poor from the dust,
lifts up the needy from the dunghill.
And this is the work of the LORD,
for not by strength shall man prevail.
This canticle is clearly the inspiration for Mary’s canticle, the Magnificat, in Luke 1: 46-55, where Mary proclaims that
the LORD has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
These two women sing messages of hope for a troubled world and proclaim a revolution, the triumph of the poor.
In our world where the poor are despised and blamed for their poverty, where they are cast out, the words of these two women need to be heard, to be proclaimed, to be sung aloud to the rulers and the rich of this world, so that they be converted.
For the LORD has scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts
…and sent the rich away empty.
May this come true! And may people of faith make it happen!