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1 Samuel 2
v 1-10

Canticle - The poor rejoice in the Lord
He put down the mighty from their seats and exalted the lowly; he filled the hungry with good things (Lk 1, 52-53)

My heart exults in the Lord,
  I find my strength in my God;
my mouth laughs at my enemies
  as I rejoice in your saving help.
There is none like the Lord,
  there is none besides you.
  There is no Rock like our God.

Bring your haughty words to an end,
  let no boasts fall from your lips,
for the Lord is a God who knows all.
  It is he who weighs men’s deeds.

The bows of the mighty are broken,
  but the weak are clothed with strength.
Those with plenty must labour for bread,
  but the hungry need work no more.
The childless wife has children now
  but the fruitful wife bears no more.

It is the Lord who gives life and death,
  he brings men to the grave and back;
it is the Lord who gives poverty and riches.
  He brings men low and raises them on high.

He lifts up the lowly from the dust,
  from the ash heap he raises the poor
to set him in the company of princes,
  to give him a glorious throne.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
  on them he has set the world.
He guards the steps of his faithful,
  but the wicked perish in darkness,
for no man’s power gives him victory.
  The enemies of the Lord shall be broken.

The Most High will thunder in the heavens,
  the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give power to his king
  and exalt the might of his anointed.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on Canticle 1 Samuel 2
General Audience, Wednesday 20 March 2002 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Lauds, Wednesday Week 2 - The joy and hope of the humble is in God
v 1-10

"1. The voice of a woman leads us today in the prayer of praise to the Lord of Life. In fact, in the story of the First Book of Samuel, it is Anna who sings the hymn we have just proclaimed, after offering her child, the little Samuel to the Lord. He was to be a prophet in Israel and his action was to mark the transition of the Hebrew people to a new form of government, monarchy, in which the unfortunate King Saul and the glorious King David would play the lead. Anna had a history of suffering in her past, for, as the story says, the Lord "had closed her womb" (I Sam 1,5).

In ancient Israel, a barren woman was considered as a withered branch, a dead presence, in part because she prevented her husband from having continuity in the memory of the generations to follow, an important factor in what was a hazy and uncertain vision of the hereafter.

2. But Anna had put her trust in the God of life and prayed: "O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me and not forget your maidservant, but will give your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life" (I Sam 1,11). And God heard the cry of this humiliated woman and gave her Samuel: a living shoot that sprang from the dry trunk (cf. Is 11,1); what had been impossible in human eyes had become a tangible reality in that child who was to be consecrated to the Lord.

The hymn of thanksgiving that sprang from the lips of the mother was to be taken up and expressed anew by another Mother, Mary, who while remaining a virgin conceived by the power of the Spirit of God. In fact, in the Magnificat of the Mother of Jesus we can perceive an echo of Anna's canticle which for this reason is known as "the Magnificat of the Old Testament".

3. In reality, scholars note that the sacred author has placed on Anna's lips a sort of royal psalm laced with citations or allusions to other Psalms.

In the foreground, the image of the Hebrew king emerges, assailed by more powerful adversaries, but who in the end is saved and triumphs because the Lord who is at his side breaks the bows of the mighty (cf. I Sam 2,4).

The finale of the canticle is significant, in which the Lord enters the scene in a solemn epiphany: "The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed" (v. 10). In Hebrew the last word is precisely "messiah", meaning "anointed one", which enables us to transform this royal prayer into a song of messianic hope.

4. We wish to underline in this hymn of thanksgiving two themes that express Anna's feelings. The first will also be dominant in Mary's Magnificat: it is the reversal of destinies that God brings about. The bows of the mighty are broken but the feeble "gird on strength". Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry sit at a sumptuous banquet with princes; the poor are raised up from the dust and given "a seat of honour" (cf. vv. 4.8).

In this ancient prayer it is easy to follow the thread of the seven actions that Mary sees accomplished in the history of God the Saviour: "He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel ..." (Lk 1,51-54).

This is a profession of faith spoken by both mothers before the Lord of history, who arrays himself to defend the least, the poor and the suffering, the offended and humiliated.

5. The other theme we would like to highlight is connected even more closely with Anna: "The barren has born seven, but she who has many children is forlorn" (I Sam 2,5). The Lord who reverses destinies is also at the root of life and of death. Anna's sterile womb was like a tomb; yet God was able to make it bring forth life, because "in his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind" (Jb 12,10). Immediately after, in this connection, Anna sings: "The Lord kills and brings to life, he brings down to Sheol and raises up" (I Sam 2,6).

At this point hope does not only concern the life of the child who is born, but also the life God can bring back after death. Hence an almost "paschal" horizon of resurrection opens. Isaiah was to sing: "Your dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and on the land of the shades you will let it fall" (Is 26,19)."


"I am pleased to offer warm greetings to all the English-speaking visitors present at this Audience. In particular, I greet the Delegation from the Ministry for Home Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand. Upon all of you, especially those from Denmark, Japan and the United States of America, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les jeunes du Centre Madeleine Daniélou, de Rueil-Malmaison, de l’École Sainte-Marie, de Neuilly, et les autres groupes de jeunes venus de France. Que votre pèlerinage vous confirme dans la joie d’être chrétiens ! Avec ma Bénédiction apostolique.

Ein herzlicher Gruß gilt den Pilgern und Besuchern aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. In dieser Fastenzeit wollen wir neu bedenken, daß die Freude und Hoffnung der Demütigen in Gott selbst liegt. Gerne erteile ich Euch allen, Euren Lieben daheim und den vielen, die mit uns über Radio und Fernsehen verbunden sind, den Apostolischen Segen.

Saúdo cordialmente todos peregrinos presentes de língua portuguesa, e em particular as professoras e alunas do Colégio Mira Rio de Lisboa. Ao desejar a todas uma Feliz Páscoa, concedo de bom grado a vós e às vossas famílias a minha mais ampla Bênção Apostólica.

Saludo a todos los fieles de lengua española; en especial a los alumnos del Instituto "Rey Don García", de Nájera (La Rioja), del Colegio La Inmaculada de Cartagena y del Liceo Europeo, de Madrid, así como a los fieles argentinos aquí presentes. A todos os deseo una fructífera participación en la Semana Santa, ya próxima, y una gozosa celebración de la Pascua.

Ik groet nu alle Belgische en Nederlandse pelgrims. Moge uw bedevaart naar de graven van de Apostelen in deze Veertigdagentijd, een goede geestelijke voorbereiding zijn op de viering van Pasen. Van harte verleen ik u de Apostolische Zegen. Geloofd zij Jezus Christus !

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar zarándokokat, különösképpen a református és evangélikus lelkipásztorokat. Isten hozott Benneteket! A készület idejét éljük, hogy méltóképpen ünnepelhessük Urunk halálának és feltámadásának nagy ünnepét. Erre adom Rátok apostoli áldásomat. Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Srdečně vítám poutníky z Olomouce. Nechť tato vaše pouť k hrobům apoštolů Petra a Pavla posilní vaši víru a lásku ke Kristu a jeho církvi. S otcovskou láskou v srdci vám k tomu žehnám. Chvála Kristu!

Srdečne vítam slovenských pútnikov z Bratislavy. Bratia a sestry, Pôstne obdobie nás všetkých pobáda, aby sme uznali v Ježišovi Kristovi našu najväčšiu nádej. Pozývam vás, aby ste boli vo svete vernými svedkami jeho Radostnej zvesti o vykúpení. Rád žehnám vás í vaše rodiny doma. Pochválený bud' Ježiš Kristus!


Nel rivolgere la parola ai pellegrini di lingua italiana, il mio pensiero va al professor Marco Biagi, barbaramente ucciso ieri sera a Bologna sotto la sua casa, al rientro dal lavoro. Mentre esprimo ai familiari la mia spirituale vicinanza in questo tragico momento di dolore, elevo al Signore la mia preghiera di suffragio per l’anima del defunto economista. Nel deplorare con ogni fermezza questa nuova manifestazione di insensata violenza, auspico che si affermi nella cara Nazione italiana un clima di intesa fra le parti sociali, per una pacifica soluzione dei problemi in atto.

Un particolare saluto rivolgo ora ai partecipanti al pellegrinaggio del Santuario di Nostra Signora della Guardia in Genova. Carissimi, vi incoraggio a continuare nel vostro impegno di adesione a Cristo, per testimoniare coraggiosamente il Vangelo in ogni ambito della società, ispirandovi all’esempio di virtù della Vergine Maria, modello di perfezione cristiana.

Saluto poi le Religiose che frequentano il corso promosso dall’Unione Superiore Maggiori d’Italia, e i fedeli delle diverse parrocchie.

Saluto, infine, i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli.

La liturgia, ieri, ci ha fatto celebrare la festa di san Giuseppe, uomo giusto, sempre disponibile a compiere la volontà di Dio.

Esorto voi, cari giovani, specialmente voi studenti provenienti da varie località, ad imitarlo perché possiate corrispondere ogni giorno ai desideri del Signore. San Giuseppe aiuti voi, cari malati, a cogliere nella sofferenza l’occasione per cooperare all’amore di Dio che salva l’uomo. E formulo per voi, cari sposi novelli, l’augurio di un amore casto e fecondo, che si nutra della preghiera e della quotidiana fedeltà ai disegni divini."