1 Samuel 1:9-20
After they had eaten in the hall, Hannah rose and took her stand before the Lord, while Eli the priest was sitting on his seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to the Lord with many tears and made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord of Hosts! If you will take notice of the distress of your servant, and bear me in mind and not forget your servant and give her a man-child, I will give him to the Lord for the whole of his life and no razor shall ever touch his head.’
While she prayed before the Lord which she did for some time, Eli was watching her mouth, for she was speaking under her breath; her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard. He therefore supposed that she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to be in this drunken state? Rid yourself of your wine.’ ‘No, my lord,’ Hannah replied ‘I am a woman in great trouble; I have taken neither wine nor strong drink – I was pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not take your maidservant for a worthless woman; all this time I have been speaking from the depth of my grief and my resentment.’ Then Eli answered her: ‘Go in peace,’ he said ‘and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.’ And she said, ‘May your maidservant find favour in your sight’; and with that the woman went away; she returned to the hall and ate and was dejected no longer.
They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord and then set out and returned to their home in Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with Hannah his wife and the Lord was mindful of her. She conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’
Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.
He taught them with authority
I am an avid user of social media, and one of the most memorable memes I have seen is that concerning the difference between a leader and a manager. The manager ‘leads’ from the back, often dictating what his employees are supposed to do and drives all actions with commands and instructions. His power comes from his official position within the formal organisation.
The leader, on the other hand, leads by example. He is often in the trenches and shows his followers through his actions. His actions lead people, not his words.
As someone leading a team in the past, I have reflected on which category of leader I belonged to; and I concluded that I was probably a blend of both, depending on which organisation and circumstances I was in. Despite calling myself a Christian and a Catholic, I was ashamed that I was not a better reflection of my faith.
In the Gospel today, Jesus shows His authority in ordering the unclean spirit to leave the possessed man. When I reflect on this, I realised that, apart from being the Son of God, Jesus derived a large part of this authority from His relationship with the Father. Before the events in today’s Gospel, Jesus had been baptised and had spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness. In the wild, Jesus got to spend time fasting and praying, building His relationship with God the Father.
Looking back at my times as a leader, I found that during the times when I was the ‘negative leader’, I tended not to be grounded with God and when I demonstrated ‘positive leadership’, I felt closer to God.
Let us continue to seek God so that He may cover us with His Spirit. Only through this are we able to draw on His strength to lead our lives authoritatively as Christians. May we learn to become models of our faith.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer: Father God, we pray we may learn to draw on Your strength and our relationship with You. Help us, Father, to be better.
Thanksgiving: Jesus Lord, thank You for coming among us to lead us by example. Thank You for showing us what it means to be true Christians. Thank You for helping us go beyond the shallow, and touch what is real.