Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 4:1-11; Mark 1:40-45)
Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross listed “bargaining” as one of the five steps in accepting death. She wrote that after denial and anger most people will offer a favor to God in exchange for a miracle. Of course, the maneuver fails. People cannot manipulate God to give them what they want. The people of Israel in today’s first reading have to learn this lesson the hard way.
When the Israelites are defeated in battle by the Philistines, they look for a good luck charm. They settle on bringing the Ark of the Covenant from the shrine at Shiloh. The ploy fails, however. God wants His people to live righteous lives. He will not be manipulated by self-serving shows of honor. If Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, represent the morality of Israel, the nation has lost God’s favor. These men notoriously flouted norms of justice in dealing with the people who came to offer sacrifice.
We should never assume that God will give us what we desire. A Christian stance would be to ask God to meet a need and to wait in hope for fulfillment. We are likely to receive what we ask. But even if we do not, God has not abandoned us. He will be there in the hour of our greatest need. In the meantime we continue to serve Him because He is the source of all that we are and have.