Week of 1 Epiphany: Monday, Year 2   10 comments

Above:  Elkanah and His Wives, from the Masters of Utrecht, Circa 1430

Love, Dignity, and Stigma

JANUARY 8, 2024


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


1 Samuel 1:1-8 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.  He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other was Peninnah.  And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD.  On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Penninah his wife and to all her sons and daughters; and, although he loved Hannah, he would give Hannah only one portion, because the LORD had closed her womb.  So it went on year by year; as often she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her.  Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.  And Elkanah, her husband, said to her,

Hannah, why do you weep?  And why do you not eat?  And why is your heart sad?  Am I not more to you than ten sons?

Psalm 116:10-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

10 How shall I repay the LORD

for all the good things he has done for me?

11 I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call upon the Name of the LORD.

12 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

13 Precious in the sight of the LORD

is the death of his servants.

14 O LORD, I am your servant;

I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;

you have freed me from my bonds.

15 I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving

and call upon the Name of the LORD.

16 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

17 In the courts of the LORD’s house,

in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.


Mark 1:14-20 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying,

The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them,

Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.

And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.  And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.


The Collect:

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of 1 Epiphany:  Monday, Year 1:





As a Christian in 2011, I understand my immortality to be spiritual.  So I am not the least worried about the fact that I am childless.  In fact, childlessness has been my choice, for I dislike the company of young children.  Had I lived in the time of Elkanah, Peninnah, and Hannah, however, I would certainly have thought differently.  As The Abingdon Bible Commentary (1929) says on page 384,

In ancient Hebrew thought childlessness was the greatest disaster that could overtake a family; it involved annihilation for the family-soul in which all members of the family, past and present, participate.

Elkanah (literally “God has possessed”) had married two women, Peninnah (“Pearl”) and Hannah (“Grace”).  Peninnah was the mother of his children, but he loved Hannah in a way he did not love his other wife.  Elkanah’s family-soul immortality was assured, thanks to Peninnah’s fecundity, but what about Hannah? Social mores meant that her childlessness lowered her status.

There was a ritual animal sacrifice at Shiloh, followed by a communal feast upon the parts not offered to God.   Depending on how one interprets the Hebrew text in 1:5, Elkanah either gave Hannah a double portion gladly–out of love–or just one portion–regretfully, for he loved her.  His love for Hannah is the main point of that passage; the amount of the portion of the animal is an issue for Hebrew Bible scholars to discuss among themselves.

Hannah, feeling stress, fed by hostility from Peninnah, wept and did not eat as much as her husband thought she should.  Given her circumstances, this was predictable.

The Canadian Anglican lectionary I am following will continue this story in the next day’s readings.  It is sufficed to say that Hannah does have a child–and a great one at that.

For today, however, I leave you, O reader, with a few questions.

  1. Who in your midst is suffering because of stigma?
  2. Do you buy into that stigma?
  3. How can you help this (these) suffering person (persons)?




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