Homily for January 13, Friday of the I week in Ordinary Time, year II
Our two readings today show us very different aspects of and reactions to divine authority.
The Old Testament takes up the story at a place where the Israelites have been ruled for many years through the guidance of prophets and other men and women chosen directly by God, without any clear institutional monarchy. The people decide that they need something more like the nations around them – a hereditary monarchy, with all that it implies. While on one hand they could have good reasons for making this request, on the other, God tells the prophet Samuel that the people are rejecting God as their king. They would rather be ruled by fairly predictable, if flawed, human authority, than by the more mysterious authority of God.
The Gospel reading reminds us that God’s authority is not a burden or a cause of intimidation, but a blessing, which He exercises for our good. God’s authority and justice is matched by His power, His knowledge, and His mercy. He does not choose to exercise it as external political authority, but rather as spiritual authority and dominion over His creation from within. St. Mark’s beautiful account of how Jesus forgives and heals the paralytic shows that God knows what we need before we ask, and responds to our efforts with great generosity and willingness to heal and forgive. What He asks above all is humility, sincerity, and faith.
May God help us to recognize His authority in our lives and submit to it willingly and joyfully, knowing that God is our guide and protector who loves us and wants us to rejoice in His goodness in this life and the next.