Thu, 16 January 2020
O father of monks
and all who would give themselves
completely to the Lord,
you who have been so obedient
to the word of God,
to His call
to sell everything,
to renounce all possessions
and follow Him –
how we need your prayers
when love for material things
possesses our very bodies
when prayer and penance
seem things of the distant past.
Make present to us
the blessed call of the Lord,
the renunciation of the world,
that we too might find
the riches of Heaven
you knew so well.
Pray we give up all for God.
Thu, 16 January 2020
(1Sm.8:4-7,10-22; Ps.89:2,16-19; Mk.2:1-12)
“We have never seen anything like this!”
What the Lord can do, no one else is able to do – no king, no prophet, no priest. Though all may do in His name, nothing is done except through Him. He alone forgives sins; He alone heals. He alone fights our battles, for He alone rules over us.
In asking Samuel to appoint a king over them, the Israelites reject the rule of God in their lives. If they but believed, the Lord would take care of all their concerns and they would keep all His blessings – their children, their animals, their land… as their own. But they do not trust in Him; rather, they fear the world, the surrounding nations, and seek to be like them, to fight as they do – to have one of their own to rule them. And thus they will lose what they have, for when we give all to God, He returns all we give with manifold blessing; but when we trust in man, giving ourselves to him, he swallows up our offerings.
Our psalm expresses well the attitude we should have toward God. It should be “in the light of [His] countenance” we walk. It should be “at [His] name [we] rejoice all the day.” We should say with our psalmist: “To the Lord belongs our shield, and to the Holy One of Israel, our king.” And so it is Jesus who must be our King; He alone must rule our lives, for He alone truly belongs to God; He alone is the Son of God.
The scribes were right to ask, “Who can forgive sins except God alone?” for God alone stood before them, forgiving the sins of His children. And it is now by His power, His presence, that our priests forgive men’s sins in His name. “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” and He does not take that power from the face of the earth upon His return to the Father’s side in heaven: He multiplies that power – as well as the power to teach, to, in this sense, rule our lives – in His holy Church and its appointed leaders. What He granted to the Israelites because of their stubbornness of heart, He now brings full circle by blessing us with the presence of Christ: our king, our prophet, and our priest. No longer is it blasphemy for one to stand in God’s stead, for the Lord has visited His people.
And should we not praise Him, therefore, for the wonders He accomplishes in our midst? Should we not shout for joy for His blessings? For now we have a king to rule us, a king greater than any other; now we need not fear the attacks of any nation. For even Satan He holds in His hands and casts him out at will; and so we are able to return to our land, to stand up and “go home.” May “all give praise to God” for His goodness to us, turning our foolishness and sin to His grace and blessing before our very eyes.
O LORD, let us walk in the light of your countenance;
you alone are our strength.
YHWH, forgive us our sins, forgive our rejecting your rule over us. Forgive our seeking to be like other nations with one like ourselves as our king – O why do we not cherish your presence in our midst? But thank you for sending your Son to be our King, to be Lord over us, for by this grace you take our foolish desire and make it holy. By Him we are redeemed from our sin… By Him we are forgiven.
Only you, O God, can forgive our sins, and this you do through your Son. For He shares your authority – He Himself is God. And this power to forgive sins you extend to men who stand this day in Jesus’ stead. Though we be weak and sinful, in His Name all is accomplished according to your will.
And in your Church men now also teach in the Name of Jesus, and so in your NAME as well. O LORD, let us hear your Word, let us know your healing, that all the day we might give praise to you.