First Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Sam 8:4-7, 10-22a
All the elders of Israel came in a body to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.” Samuel was displeased when they asked for a king to judge them. He prayed to the LORD, however, who said in answer: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.” Samuel delivered the message of the LORD in full to those who were asking him for a king. He told them: “The rights of the king who will rule you will be as follows: He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots and horses, and they will run before his chariot. He will also appoint from among them his commanders of groups of a thousand and of a hundred soldiers. He will set them to do his plowing and his harvesting, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will use your daughters as ointment makers, as cooks, and as bakers. He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his officials. He will tithe your crops and your vineyards, and give the revenue to his eunuchs and his slaves. He will take your male and female servants, as well as your best oxen and your asses, and use them to do his work. He will tithe your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves. When this takes place, you will complain against the king whom you have chosen, but on that day the LORD will not answer you.” The people, however, refused to listen to Samuel’s warning and said, “Not so! There must be a king over us. We too must be like other nations, with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare and fight our battles.” When Samuel had listened to all the people had to say, he repeated it to the LORD, who then said to him, “Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them.”
Gospel: Mk 2:1-12
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
THE SON OF MAN HAS AUTHORITY: God has authority over Israel, yet He gives in to their request for a king. Despite showing them all the evils that this earthly king will do, they still insist on getting one. In the Gospel, Jesus shows how a true king should use his authority, to liberate and rise up the weak. He makes the man whole – able to rise, and fend for himself, free at last from the shackles of paralysis. As in charge of our families, at our work places or wherever we are in charge of others, do we behave like the worldly kings or like Jesus? Like the four men carrying the paralytic, we are called to reach out to others and help them. Let us take ourselves and those in need, to Jesus.
Prayer: O God, through your Son Jesus Christ, free us from every evil
AMAZING FRIENDS: The four men in the gospel are an example of taking love of others to another level. They could have been passive. They could have decided, “If our paralyzed friend wants to meet Jesus, let him figure out how to do that for himself.” But they remained good friends of the paralytic and treated him with sympathy and love. But they took love to the next level. They did whatever it took to get him to Jesus. They recognized Jesus was the only one who could help him. They weren’t shy about enlisting the help of others in getting him to Jesus. They exercised persistent faith, not giving up till they got their friend to Jesus. And they overcame every obstacle that stood in the way—pushing through discouragement, pressing through the crowd, even to the extent of letting him down through the roof. They were bold and creative and unashamed and overcame every obstacle to get their friend to Jesus.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: Not a word spoken, No prayer on his lips. The sufferer does not make even a step towards the master. And no visible expression of intent. Yet in all these, Jesus is presented with a man in need of His touch. In response to this need, Jesus says, Child, your sins are forgiven.” At this, people who matter in the society of the day conclude, “He is blaspheming”. It would have appeared better for Jesus to shut up and not enter into problems, however, for Him, the good of a person in need is the priority. That is the true meaning of God’s glory that should not be limited to times and laws. The faith of these few believers is enough to move Him to action. If only our society had more such whose quality of faith would make good the poor faith of others! In today’s time, you and I witness a landscape of spiritual desert standing sterile with nothing to bear, we realize how much faith is lacking! May we be ushers of positive change.