In today's first reading, 1 Sam 8:4-7, 10-22a, the people approach Samuel in his advanced age and ask him to "appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us." Samuel is distressed at their request. In prayer, God says to Samuel: "Grant the people's every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king." Before doing so, Samuel informs the people of the consequences of having a king. No matter what the burdens, they insist on having a king like other nations do."We too must be like other nations with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare and fight our battles." Samuel again takes his concerns to the Lord in prayer and God says to him: "Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them."
We are no different from the Israelites of old. The criteria used to choose persons "to rule us and to lead us in warfare and fight our battles" is, many times, contrary to the Gospels and a rejection of God Himself as our King/Judge. Consequently, we see evil being exposed, values being eroded, peoples' rights being violated and God, I believe, "being rejected...as...king."
Let us, though, come down to a personal level. Have I, not, at times, set my values and my beliefs aside to be like someone else who has chosen an easier path--perhaps even one contrary to loving others as God does? Have I not, at times, chosen other gods to rule me and, in doing so, have the values and the faith that were handed down to me by my parents and other God-fearing persons--by those who explained the Scriptures to me at home and at school, during Sunday homilies in our churches, by coaches and school counselors, by faith-filled friends and co-workers--been eroded, cast aside? Have I rejected God as my King for secular rulers like so many others seeking merely power, prestige, "wealth"--not necessarily monetary wealth--through corrupt, deceptive ways of relating to others?
In the opening prayer in the liturgy of each day this week we have said God:
Attend to the pleas of your people
with heavenly care, O Lord, we pray,
they they may see what must be done
and gain strength to do what they have seen....
As I prayed this prayer each day, I have inserted my name and the names of the persons serving us in public office. Whose names, besides your own, would you insert?