Today's first reading from 1 Samuel offers the culmination to an Old Testament story of ecclesial corruption. Father Steve's homily offers a comparison to our current age, drawing our attention to the biblical means by which God acts to bring about renewal in His Church.
Since Monday the Church has presented these marvelous scripture passages from the first Book of Samuel.
The story presents not just the early life of one of Israel’s most formidable prophets, but the story of Israel itself, beset by troubles, particularly the corruption of its religious leadership.
As the people languish, the corruption of Israel’s priests is met by the power of God who acts to bring about change through the birth of a child. This child would be given over to the service of the Lord’s sanctuary and would, as an adult, initiate the great events that would lead to the kingdom of David.
Today we hear about what the depth of the corruption of Israel’s priests brings upon Israel. The Israelites are delivered into the hands of their enemies, and the Ark of the Covenant is lost.
Among the dead are the sons of the high priest Eli, the priests Hophni and Phinehas.
Eli’s corruption was that knowing of the crimes of his sons, he did nothing. Now, his sons are dead, and Israel has been shamed before the world.
The scripture that follows includes the damning detail that when the priest Eli hears of the deaths of his son, he falls over backward, and because of his immense girth, breaks his neck and dies.
The resonance of today’s scripture to our own times and circumstances is uncanny...