Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot

1Sm 8:4-7,10-22; Ps 89:16-19; Mk 2:1-12

Indeed, others bless us to the degree that we have blessed others.  This kind of behavior is a model for all who know the joyful shout and walk in the light of the LORD’s countenance.  In the Name of the LORD we rejoice all the day, and through the justice of God we exalt others and are exalted by others.  For God himself is the splendor of their strength, and by God’s favor our horn is exalted.  For to the LORD belongs our shield, to the Holy One of Israel, the True King of every nation.  Although Samuel knew that the true king of Israel was the LORD, he could not convince the people.  The LORD commanded his prophet to give them what they ask.  The Lord Jesus brings the reign of the true king of Israel into this world.  In God’s Kingdom there is healing and forgiveness.  Could we ask for more?


The prophet had become a father for Israel, the earthly representative of their true Father in Heaven.  Samuel was a judge, priest, and prophet; he led the People of God.  His spiritual children rebelled as his earthly descendants had rebelled.  The people rubbed it in his face when they reminded him, “your sons do not follow your example”.  Neither did they take after the example of their spiritual father; they wanted an earthly king over them.  It was not enough to have the LORD as their king.  The LORD tried to cushion the blow to his prophet when he told Samuel, “It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king”.  The LORD did not respond in anger, but he was clear about the expectations of any earthly king.  The king they were asking for would have many rights, and these God had Samuel elaborate, just to be sure the people knew what to expect.  Their new king would demand service from their sons, daughters, and a share in the wealth and prosperity of all his subjects.  This warning had no impact on the people; they still wanted a king like other nations.  Some in the church want what other people have; not a king but a democracy in the Body of Christ.  Self-rule or majority-rule is no paradise.  Sometimes the majority is lost and tyrannical.  Sometimes the majority is wrong of heart and narrow in vision.  When we trust the LORD to call forth shepherds, who are men after His own heart, then we trust that ultimately we, and our leaders will obey the only true King of all the Nations.  Like all the humble of the earth, we can speak the truth in love to those we obey.  Such a mutual respect and humility before the LORD will abound with blessings for all.


Those who had all the power during the time of the Lord’s public ministry were convinced that only God can forgive sins.  For the Lord Jesus to say to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven” was nothing less than blasphemy.  Indeed, it would have been blasphemy for any man to make such a claim, but the Lord Jesus is the long awaited King of Israel, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father.  In Christ our King the full authority of God the Father is manifest and active among the People of God.  The full power and compassion of the Father is revealed in the ministry of Christ to the human race, paralyzed by sin.  In our own day there are powerful people who claim that there is no sin, so we don’t need anyone to forgive us.  They speculate that as long as our intention is pure, whatever we decide to do cannot be wrong.  Such thinking makes everyone a king.  Such relativism dismisses our struggle with guilt and offense as true madness and a complete waste of time.  Things seem to be reversed, yet still the same.  Just like the people of Samuel’s day we want a leader who is accessible to our influence, someone just like us who will understand and submit to our prejudices and limitations.  Not like our True King who calls us to go beyond our comfort zones and pour ourselves out in loving service—even to the point of self-sacrifice, in imitation of Christ our only true king.  Just like the people of Jesus’ day we want a leader who always makes us feel good by affirming our every effort and good intention.  Not like our True King who reveals the universal boundaries between good and evil—commanding us what to do and what not to do for our good and for His glory.  Indeed, we still need to be forgiven; we still need a Savior.