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amaryA familiar adage says that “behind every good man there stands a good woman.” In today’s Scripture readings we meet two of them. Hannah was barren, longing for a child and promising God that if she finally bore a son she would dedicate him to God. Soon after, she became pregnant and bore the child, Samuel, whom we meet later with the prophet Eli. Hannah’s gratitude to God is expressed in a canticle (1 Samuel 2) that is quite similar to Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1) announcing the news of her pregnancy to Elizabeth. Both of these women bore and raised extraordinary sons – with the help of their loving husbands, to be sure. In Biblical times there was little notice given to women and little written of their steadfast care and sacrifice for their families as well as service to their God. I will take some time today to chant (even if on one steady tone) these canticles, praising God for mothers and other wonderful women.

The above reflection has merit as well in a reflection on the O Antiphon for today where we consider Jesus as “the cornerstone” of God’s house. This is the stone that joins the walls of a building at its base. It is seen metaphorically as the quality or feature upon which a particular thing (e.g. Christianity) depends or is based. As we pray the antiphon today, we might see Mary welcoming her infant son into her arms at his birth and standing behind him throughout his life as a support beam giving him the strength and courage to fulfill his mission.

O King of the Gentiles and Desired of All, You are the cornerstone that binds two into one. Come and save poor humanity whom You fashioned out of clay.

O Leader of Nations, you are the long-awaited messiah, the one like a cornerstone that joins the sides and foundation of a building. Come, make our human race all one family.