You would think that as God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel would enjoy being different, set apart. Uh…not so much. We see this in today’s first reading. More in a moment. In the Gospel reading from Mark 2, we read the story of four men who bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. The house is so crowded that they have to go up on the roof and lower their friend down through a hole in the roof. Jesus heals the man, and reveals more about himself to the people.
We see throughout the Old Testament that Israel was a petulant people. While God took care of them always, time and again they would complain about this, that and the other thing. In today’s first reading from 1 Samuel 8, it is all about a king. At this time, Israel had no king. They didn’t need one! God was their leader, and he had appointed prophets to lead them. But this wasn’t good enough. So they come to Samuel, whining and saying (I paraphrase here), “We want a king! Everyone else has a king…we want one, too!” Even after Samuel explains the pitfalls of having a king, they still want their way.
Everyone else has one! Everyone else is doing it! How many times have we heard that? Shoot, how many times have we said those things to justify our own actions? I can hear the cries going up to God now. “But, God, everyone else is using contraception!” “Everyone else thinks abortion is OK!” “Everyone else is having sex whenever they want!” “Everyone else is…” You get the picture. It reminds me of the old question my mom always used to ask…if eveyone else went and jumped off a bridge, would you, too? Maybe we could change the question a bit. If everyone else was walking on the path to destruction, would you, too?
Father, we’re so sorry for those times when we justify our actions because “everyone else is doing it.” Help us to live our lives not by their standards, but by Yours. Amen.