READINGS for 2008-01-17

Didache | Companion | Sabbath



bRibiNg gOD
“Why has the Lord permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines?” – 1 Samuel 4:3
As a sales person, this was the presentation for me. I was sure I would bag this deal. I had a very good concept and an impressive portfolio. I brought my Bible with me and I even listened to Christian music on my way to the client presentation. And to ensure victory, I had fasted before the Lord.
        A few weeks later, I learned that they chose another group. My heart broke. My faith was shattered. “Why did you allow this to happen, Lord?” I asked. In spite of all the prayers and fasting I didn’t get what I want.
        In today’s reading, the Israelites thought of bringing the Ark of the Lord with them to ensure victory. They were banking on the Ark to save them from the grasp of the Philistines. They lost the battle and the Ark.
        Many times, I bribe God by offering sacrifices and doing things I feel will make Him give in to my will. Many times, I do things without seeking God’s will. Many times, I end up disappointed, wounded and hurt.
        We cannot bribe God. He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He  knows what is best for us. We may not see it now, but He wants only the best for us. Randy Borromeo
When was the last time you ended up disappointed because you did not seek God’s will?
Lord, teach me to see with eyes of faith what You have in store for me. Help me seek Your will at all times. Amen.


Presumption of God’s blessings can be dangerous. The Israelites presumed God would deliver them from the Philistines if they brought out the Ark of the Covenant. But he did not and even the Ark was captured by their enemies. It is wrong to presume that God will deliver us from temptation if we freely enter into it. This is merely tempting the Lord. We must avoid temptation. We can be sure God will help us in that desire.
1 Samuel 4:1-11
1 The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel. Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel. After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3 When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh that it may go into battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of God. 5 When the ark of the LORD arrived in the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth resounded. 6 The Philistines, hearing the noise of shouting, asked, “What can this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” On learning that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were frightened. They said, “Gods have come to their camp.” They said also, “Woe to us! This has never happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods that struck the Egyptians with various plagues and with pestilence. 9 Take courage and be manly, Philistines; otherwise you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they were your slaves. So fight manfully!” 10 The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated; every man fled to his own tent. It was a disastrous defeat, in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were among the dead.
Psalm 44: 10-11, 14-15, 24-25
R: Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
9 [10] Yet now you have cast us off and put us in disgrace, and you go not forth with our armies. 10 [11] You have let us be driven back by our foes; those who hated us plundered us at will. (R) 13 [14] You made us the reproach of our neighbors, the mockery and the scorn of those around us. 14 [15] You made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples. (R) 24 [25] Why do you hide your face, forgetting our woe and our oppression? [26] For our souls are bowed down to the dust, our bodies are pressed to the earth. (R)
In Jesus’ ministry, it seems that virtually all the sick who came to Him were healed. But why are there are so many sick today who ask for healing but are not healed? I do not have a good answer to that question. All I can surmise is that in His earthly ministry, Jesus had a limited time to make a point and He did so with as much authority as possible. With that message delivered, we’re left at a time where we live our own faith in situations much different from 2,000 years ago. Life expectancy then was probably less than 50 years of age; in the West today, it is more like 80.
Mark 1:40-45
40 A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” 42 The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. 43 Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. 44 Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” 45 The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Mark -4
my reflections
think:: It is wrong to presume that God will deliver us from temptation if we freely enter into it.

God’s special verse/thought for me today________________

Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________


taKinG Christ’s Words literally
St. Anthony of Egypt lived between 251 and 356. While St. Anthony of Padua is very much-loved because he helps us find lost things, Anthony of Egypt is less known and venerated. He lived an ascetic life in the harsh Egyptian desert and became the “Father of Monasticism.”
       Anthony lived his early years in luxury. His wealthy parents died when he was 18 years old and he was left with the responsibility of caring for their estate and his younger sister. One Sunday, when he attended Mass, the gospel was about the rich young man whom Jesus exhorted, “Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Anthony felt the Lord had spoken to him personally. He left the church and did he sold all he had inherited and donated the proceeds to the poor. He kept just a bit for himself and for his sister. When he heard Jesus’ words in the gospel, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow,” he regretted his concession to prudence. He brought his sister to a convent, gave up all he had left had and dedicated himself completely to God by living in the desert a life of prayerful austerity. He suffered from hunger and thirst, lack of sleep, dangers from wild animals. Worst were the attacks of demons who tempted him to give up such a God-pleasing life. In spite of such a sacrifice, in spite of such a harsh life, he lived to 105 years old.
       St. Anthony teaches us to listen well to the gospel as if it were proclaimed just for us. What Jesus asked His disciples and other listeners to do He asks us to do right here and now. This would change and enhance our spiritual life, even our whole lifestyle.
       When Emperor Constantine the Great wrote him a personal letter, he told the monks with him, “Marvel, instead, that God wrote the law for mankind and has spoken to us through His Son.” No letter, no book from the greatest person in the world can be as important as the Word of God in the Bible. Fr. Rudy Horst
Reflection Question:
What is my attitude when the gospel is read in Church? Do I feel hit by God’s Word or do I just hear but not listen?
Lord, I simply ask You for more wisdom and strength; the wisdom to listen to your Word as addressed to me, and the strength to do what You tell me and fight all temptations to worldliness.
St. Anthony, abbot, pray for us.

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