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1st Week Friday - Reflections & Liturgy

1 Sam 8:4-7, 10-22 / Mark 2:1-12

The Israelites demand a king: God told Samuel to anoint a king.

In many ancient societies, kings were more than just human rulers of human beings. They believed they got their right to rule from God. They even demanded godlike treatment. Israel always looked upon God as their king: “The LORD became king of his people Israel when their tribes and leaders Were gathered together.” Deuteronomy 33:5

This explains God’s remark to Samuel in today’s reading, that in demanding a worldly king, the people “are rejecting me as their king.” (NAB) But for some mysterious reason, God yields to their demand.
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To what extent does Christ reign as king in our hearts? “Jesus Christ will be Lord of all, or he will not be Lord at all.” St. Augustine.
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We tend to have this notion that if we were less busy, we would have more time for prayer and Bible reading and other spiritual activities. In other words, we may think that if we were less busy, then we would have more time for God.

Maybe for us, the time to look into those things on our KIV list will be maybe when we are on long leave or when we retire.

But does that happen? In fact, and surprisingly, the reverse is true. The truth is that when we make time for God first, then we will know how to make use of our time. So, it is actually when we let God be the center, then our life and everything else would come together.
This truth is expressed in the gospel when Jesus made the connection between forgiveness and healing.

Because forgiveness is healing, and forgiveness even precedes healing. Putting in simply, God must come first before we can experience any blessings in life.

But so often we are tempted to do what the people did in the 1st reading when they cried out to Samuel: Give us a king to rule over us, like the other nations.

We get attracted to the achievements and material luxuries of the successful people around us and we want to be like them, without realizing what has been sacrificed for success.

But we are not called to be "like them"; we are called to be like God, for He is holy and He wants us to be holy. To be like God means to forgive and heal, because God is forgiveness and healing.
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Friday of 1st Week - Liturgy

YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN YOU

Introduction
The reading from Samuel is a good example of the strife that results when new times demand new institutions. The tribal structure of Israel had a hard time to defend the people, the territory, and the charismatic religious leadership against better organized neighboring peoples. They too, would need more centralized structures and institutions. But some would hardly accept the needed reform. A king would be disappointing – as later experience proved – as a political and religious leader. This does not contradict the fact that profound changes were needed, but changes are always hard to take. Miracles are called “signs” in the Bible. They are, like the cure of the paralytic, visible manifestations that something has happened inside the person. The paralytic can walk. He can stand up and move as a human being, as a person who is forgiven and can get up from the paralysis of sin. Could not we, too, give “signs” to the people around us by raising them above their miseries, that God is alive in us? 

Opening Prayer
God, our Father, we are your people, at times paralyzed by our fears and our fascination with sin. Let your Son speak among us his mighty words of forgiveness and courage, to raise us above ourselves, above our cowardice and compromises, that we may go resolutely the way to you and to one another by the power of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Commentary
No form of government is perfect. But most of us would say that, even with its imperfections, democracy is our preferred form of rule. At times we learn that our elected officials have feet of clay. But we would still be reluctant to abandon the system.
In today’s first reading from Samuel, the people ask the prophet for a king. God acquiesces to their request, albeit reluctantly, since kingship will certainly prove to be a mixed blessing. The speech of Samuel is part of the anti-monarchical strain in the Book of Samuel in pointing up the negative aspects of kingship. Confiscation of property, conscription, tithing—these are some of the less pleasant features of a future kingship. But nonetheless a king will be given to the people, even though the step represents an encroachment on the rights of Yahweh.
Jesus avoids at every turn any notion of a human kingship. It is emphatically not the purpose he is called to fulfill. He was so unlike a royal messiah that any chances of his being seen as a kingly figure were minimal. As the emissary of the Father, he forgives sin and cures disease.
In our own lives, there should be no confusion of allegiances. We cannot equivocate on the demands that God makes of us. In balancing the demands of God and Caesar, there is no doubt where our first allegiance lies. Yet we know full well that in living our daily lives we are at countless turns faced with the “rule of Caesar.” The good order of society depends on it. We are not free to disregard taxes—even though we may work to reduce them. The ordinances of public safety bind us in conscience. In the great majority of issues, the Christian is a good citizen. But when our conscience prods us to raise our voice in objection, we should not fail to do so.

Points to Ponder
Morality in public office
Our responsibility in the social order
The “life issues”

Intercessions
– That the Church, aware of its own shortcomings and missed chances, may humbly offer forgiveness and new chances to all who err, and become in the world a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation, we pray:
– That our homes may be places of mutual understanding and reconciliation; that the young may learn from their parents and each other to forget injuries and hurts, we pray:
– For all Christian communities, that we may be less concerned about our rights and injured pride and learn Christ’s way of reconciliation and creating one another anew, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father, let your Son come here among us to take us by the hand and to order us to get back on our feet with joy and courage. Renew us, with his body and blood, that we too, may be to one another his uplifting word and helpful hands, that people may praise you, now and for ever. 

Prayer after Communion
God, our Father, your Son was attentive to people, to their ills and their needs. May he live in us today and make us his voice that brings reconciliation and peace, his heart that loves without boundaries, his hands that build up a world of justice, dignity and service. We ask you all this, in the name of Jesus, the Lord. 

Blessing  
Let us try with all that is in us to put back on their feet those paralyzed by their own fears, limitations and condemnations and to accompany them on their journey to God and to one another, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.