Homily for January 2019 Holy Hour
1 Samuel 8:1-22
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
In much of the Old Testament period, people were led by “kings”. Yet, before the time of Samuel, Israel did not have a king. Ultimately God was their king.
They did have human leaders. Moses was the one through whom God led the Israelites out of Egypt. Joshua was his successor. Then came a series of leaders who were known as “judges.” They were not officials in the court room but leaders of the people. Samuel was the last of the “judges” and he was also a great prophet.
The first reading we just heard is the story of what happened at the end of Samuel’s time as the Israelites’ leader. He appointed his sons as judges to succeed him but they “did not follow his example, but looked to their own gain, accepting bribes and perverting justice.”
So, quite understandably, the Israelites asked for different leadership. Rather than looking to God for guidance, they looked to other nations and saw they all had kings. So, they asked Samuel to appoint a king over them.
At God’s direction, Samuel told them of the bad things kings would do, including selfish acts, taking their sons, and their “best fields, vineyards, and olive groves.” They “refused to listen to Samuel’s warning” and insisted on a king.
God let them have what they wanted. Saul became their first king. Saul was a terrible king. Then David succeeded Saul. In many ways David was a great king but he was also a sinner. His son Solomon was his successor but if you read the whole story you see how other sons of David tried to seize the throne for selfish gain.
From David and Solomon came a long line of kings, some good, many bad until Jesus came as the heir to David.
Does this mean that should never be “kings”?
We don’t have a king in our country today but we do have government leaders, some good and some bad. Don’t worry, I am not going to talk about any specific politician today. I’m not looking to give a commentary on the current state of affairs.
If you look at our second reading tonight, Paul speaks of being “subordinate to higher authorities.” If you look at Pope St. John XXIII’s encyclical, Peace on Earth, you can read what he writes about the need for public authority. Canon Law calls for us to follow civil law as long as it doesn’t conflict with our faith. Someone has to be in charge. However, their goal should never be selfish gain. They must rule for the common good.
We read in Paul’s Letter to the Romans on how true authority comes from God. In our democratic view, many think that the authority of the elected comes from the vote of the people. This in turn means for them that those in government must do whatever the people want. This leads to thinking that whatever the majority wants determines right and wrong.
That is not true.
Of course, we need to apply what God teaches us to the circumstances in our lives but it is God who determines what is right and wrong.
So, what are we to do?
Pray! For what? Look at the first part of our psalm this evening.
“O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king’s son; he shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment.”
It doesn’t matter whether we like our government leaders or not, we must pray for them. However, we should not be praying that they do what we want.
- We need to pray that God give them good judgment.
- We need to pray that they open themselves to listen to God’s guidance.
- We need to pray that they understand that there is Truth and that it is God who determines the what is right and wrong.
- We need to pray that they have the courage to speak up for what is right and just.
- We need to pray that they have good judgment in how they vote.
- We need to pray that they respect the dignity of all life from womb to tomb and all points in between.
We need to pray that God’s will be done.