FRIDAY OF THE FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22a


Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and set a king over them.”

Psalm 89: 15-18


Happy are the people who know the festal shout,

who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;

they exult in your name all day long,

and extol your righteousness.

For you are the glory of their strength;

by your favor our horn is exalted.

For our shield belongs to the Lord,

our king to the Holy One of Israel.

Mark 2:1-12

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (NRSVCE)

Meditation

In today’s readings both the Israelites and the Pharisees have a narrow understanding of the power of God. The Israelites rejected God and implored Samuel to appoint a king to rule over them. Samuel explained to them what great sacrifices they would have to make: they would lose their sons to his army and daughters to his service. They would have to pay heavy taxes to finance the king's court and contribute to his war efforts. A king would require a lot of support from his subjects and if he were to abuse his power, since they had chosen him over God, they would not be rescued. Still, the people wanted a king so they would be like other nations.


The Pharisees in the gospel reading also have a narrow understanding of God. Though, as practicing Jews, they were looking for the Messiah, they expected him to be a political hero. They did not understand that God would bring blessings of healing, redemption and freedom through a humble carpenter's son. In each circumstance, the people’s ideas of God’s sovereignty were so tightly wound around their own ideas and immediate needs, that they became short sighted in grasping God’s bigger plan for salvation, and failed to recognize Him in their presence.


Do I go to Jesus for direction with my problems or do I seek worldly solutions first? Is my confidence and hope in the Lord or do I lack certainty that He wants to help me? Today the Lord is encouraging us to trust in Him and to come to Him. If we have faith, believing that he came to forgive our sins and reconcile us to the Father, we can expect him to free us from our paralysis, our bondage, and our helplessness. Today, pray, hope, and trust in the love and goodness of the Lord.

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