Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to reflect on Our Lord’s love for us, that He, as our King, has always shown us care and love, His genuine affection and attention all these while, even when we often disobeyed Him and betrayed Him, abandoning Him for various worldly pursuits and desires. The Lord has always shown great patience towards us, and He has always made His intention clear, that He wants us to be reconciled with Him.
In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard about how the people of Israel demanded to have a king to reign over them just like that of all their other neighbours. At that time, in truth, although the Israelites had no king to rule over them, God sent Judges to be their guide and leader, to be the ones to help enforce the will of God and the Law and commandments that He had entrusted to His people. The Lord had given many Judges to the Israelites and Samuel was the last of all the Judges of Israel.
As we heard, the people demanded to have a King over themselves, to be ruled by kings as like that of their neighbours. At that time, they had no need for kings because simply God was truly their King, and they were God’s people, and God exercised His will and power through His Judges. Samuel was under great pressure by the people who wanted him to give them a king, and the Lord gave the people what they wanted. Of course Samuel also spoke of the Lord’s words to them, speaking of how the kings that the people had wanted would eventually come to oppress and make their lives difficult, especially when those kings became corrupt and no longer walked in the path of the Lord.
All those things did come to happen, beginning with King Saul himself, the first king of the Israelites who became wayward and no longer fully followed the Lord. His actions increasingly became led by fear and by his own personal ambitions and desires, and that resulted in the sufferings in some people, and also in the long run, some divisions and chaos that ensued before King David stabilised everything again under his rule. Future kings would lead to the division of the people of God and the eventual downfall of Israel by their disobedience and sins.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Jesus, Who was teaching the people in a building when a paralytic man was brought up to Him. And because there were so many people in that building, they were not able to come near to the Lord, and because of that, they carried the paralytic man atop the building and opened the roof just so that they could lower him before the Lord. Those people must have cared so much for the paralytic man, that they were willing to do all that for him, and they all must have had such faith in the Lord, that He could make him whole again and heal him.
But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were there took offence when the Lord told the paralysed man that He has forgiven his sins, as they considered that God alone could forgive sins and the Lord was therefore acting blasphemously in doing so. They refused to see reason and truth even after they themselves had likely seen many signs and wonderful things that the Messiah and Holy One of God alone could have done, and how they, as the most intellectual and knowledgeable about the words of the prophets and the Lord could have failed to recognise the coming of the Lord’s Promised One.
The Lord has come to us Himself, to help us and lead us, guiding us all to the right path, to find the path to Him. Yet, just like in the past, at the time of the prophet Samuel, the people hardened their hearts and were led by their desires and ambitions. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were likely influenced by their hold on power and their respected position in the society which became a truly major barrier in their acceptance of the Lord and His truth, although some among them like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea did become the Lord’s disciples.
That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to be vigilant lest we may end up being misled and misguided by our own personal desires and the many temptations present all around us. We have to guard ourselves against the pressures and temptations to give in to the desires for worldly power and glory, and we can do that by focusing on the Lord and doing whatever we can to follow His path. Let us all commit ourselves to His path and open our hearts and minds to allow God to lead us down the right path.
May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen us in our courage and faith, so that we may always endeavour and do our very best to follow Him and serve Him faithfully in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.