Today’s First Reading relates to the battle between the Philistines and the people of Israel. The people of Israel bring the Ark of the Covenant to the battle believing that if they have the holy Ark of God’s presence with them, then they will not lose the battle. They are acting superstitiously. The Philistines win the battle, and they capture the Ark of the Covenant. Eli’s two sons are killed.
Eli’s sons, along with the army leaders, made the mistake of thinking that just because they were the people of God and possessed the symbol of God’s presence (the Ark of the Covenant), they could control God’s power. They approached the Ark, not in search of God, but only in search of the power that emanated from it. Perhaps they had deluded themselves into thinking that whatever they wanted for themselves would be what God wanted for them. However, they discovered that the presence of God is not a guarantee of the power of God, but an invitation to receive the guidance of God. Ironically, the ark contained the greatest form of God’s guidance, the Ten Commandments. However, they did not bother to seek God’s guidance before attacking their enemies.
Is it possible that we frequently fall into this same error? When we face difficulties in our life or have important decisions to make, do we prayerfully seek God’s guidance, or do we tell God what we want Him to do? Do we consider the plan that God has for us or are we the ones who tell God what the plan is? Do we analyze our motivations and evaluate our actions by willing to be transformed by God? Are we using God as a good luck charm or do we allow ourselves to be guided by His commandments that take us to the center of our Christian life, which is love for God, ourselves, and others?
As we are starting a new year, let us ask God to grant us wisdom so that we can discover and discern what is the plan that He has for us, instead of telling God the plan that we have, and that God simply has to achieve it. Just like the leper from today’s gospel, let us recognize who Jesus really is and following His guidance by saying to Him: “If you wish, you can make me clean.” If you wish for this to be the plan, I think it is good for me this year; if you wish, you can make it happen.