Friday January 18, 2002 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week on Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22a) Gospel (St. Mark 2:1-12)
In the first reading today, we hear the people coming to Samuel asking for a king. We are told that Samuel was displeased, but God told Samuel, "It is not you they are rejecting; it is Me they are rejecting as their King." The people did not trust the Lord and they said they wanted to be like the other nations. The people of Israel had been set apart - they were God's people. They were supposed to be different from all the other nations. But, as we all know too well, human beings do not like to be different from other people: we like to be like everyone else; we like to fit in; we like to look like everyone else; we like to act like everyone else. They were not any different.
All we need to do is think about ourselves. If we were to say, "We are no longer going to elect a President of America; God is going to be the King," how do you think most people in America would react to that? We would worry and wonder who is going to be making decisions and how we are going to be able to have the direction for the country and how we [would] know what is supposed to happen.
It is a total lack of trust in God. He had raised up Samuel to judge the people. And He had raised up the judges before Samuel. They did not trust that He would raise up another prophet. So they decided that they did not want to do it God's way anymore; they wanted it like everyone else. Then, of course, we know what happened after that. They got Saul, and all the things that Samuel told them were going to happen did, in fact, occur; the people did not want to believe that. They had their romantic idea of what it was going to be to have a king, and that was all they were looking for.
Now, each one of us needs to ask the exact [same] question: Who is our king? Do we choose the Lord? Do we really allow Him to be the King in our lives? We do not have a choice of whether or not there is going to be a President of the United States, but we do have a choice of who is going to be sovereign in our lives. Is it we ourselves who we place as sovereign? Or is it somebody else that we place up there? For some of us, maybe it is some movie star that we idolize or maybe it is some other person that we think is so important or maybe it is anything or anyone. Or is it Jesus? That is the question that each one of us needs to ask for ourselves. Who really has the authority in our lives? Who are we following? Who are we willing to place as sovereign before us? I think all of us know fully well that we are not the end-all and be-all, so who is, for us?
When the people brought the paralytic to Jesus and the Lord told him that his sins were forgiven, the people harbored bad thoughts in their hearts. They asked, "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" Then, Jesus, to demonstrate that He had the authority to forgive sin because He is God, tells the man to pick up his mat and walk. He has that same authority in our lives if we allow it, if we allow Him, who is God, to be the King, to be the Shepherd, to be the Rock - however you want to see it, it is the exact same thing. Who is the sovereign for us?
All we need to do is look at our lives and ask, "Where do we turn when decisions need to be made?" Do we come to prayer and sit before the Lord and ask Him for guidance? Or do we run around to everyone else? Or do we just try to take it on ourselves? There is nothing wrong with getting counsel, but where do we come for the ultimate decision? Where do we look for the guidance in our lives? Do we seek it from the Lord, who is King? Or do we seek it from somewhere else? God has made it very clear that if we choose someone else, we are rejecting Him and no one else.
We have only one King, and that is Jesus Christ - the King of kings and Lord of lords. But for each one of us, even though God has set up His Son as King, we need to make that decision. Who will be sovereign in our lives?
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.