Readings for Thursday January 14, 2009
First Reading: 1 Samuel 4:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 44
Gospel: Mark 1:40-45
The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel. Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel. After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield. When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the Lord from Shiloh that it may go into battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies." (1 Sam 4:1-3)
How many of you have ever wished upon a star? Have you ever carried a lucky rabbits foot, threw salt over your shoulder, avoided opening an umbrella in the house, or found a four leaf clover? There are many myths and superstitions out there, and ones in which we may even be guilty of participating in. While these things may seem innocent, belief in these things are just another example of taking our trust out of God and putting it into something else. In today's first reading, the Israelites, after losing a battle, decided to bring in the Ark of the Covenant in a desperate attempt to bring a "luck" their way. The Israelites made the mistake of reducing the Ark of the Covenant to a simple good luck charm. This is most likely the reason that they lost the next battle as well, they just didn't have a real faith or trust in God. If they had, then the Ark of the Covenant would have been at the battle in the first place.
Like the Israelites, how many times to do go to God out of desperation hoping that our luck will change? We must realize that God knows our heart, and He knows when our faith is real. The Israelites did not truly believe in the power of the Lord, they first relied on their own power and then when in a pinch decided to pull in the Ark. They ended up losing the battle and many of them lost their lives. In today's gospel, we see a different story; we read of the leper who comes to Jesus and asks to be healed. But the leper, did not treat Jesus like He was some magical person blessed with good luck, but rather the leper treated Him like God. The leper came before Jesus with a faith and trust that was real, and he knelt before the Lord and said "If you wish, you can make me clean." Jesus, moved with pity, reached out and healed the man. We see a much different approach to God between the Israelite warriors and the leper.
We must remember that we will not find the things that we need in myths, superstitions, and other worldly things; but we will only find our life and true meaning in Christ.
May our hearts be full of love for the Lord, and may all of our faith and hope be in Him!
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for the love and mercy to which you show us each and every day. Lord, we are not deserving of all of the goodness and blessings that you give, but you choose to love us anyways. Lord, help increase our faith and give us the courage that we need to persevere in this world an to overcome any barriers that try to prevent us from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.