Thursday January 24, 2002 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Samuel 18:6-9, 19:1-7) Gospel (St. Mark 3:7-12)
In the first reading today, we hear about Saul being upset and angry because when the women came out of the cities singing, they gave Saul only thousands of people that he had killed, but to David they attributed tens of thousands of people. Saul was angry and jealous, and because of this he decided that he was going to kill David. Once again, what we see is what happens when we get selfish.
Now most of us, when we get upset with somebody because they get more credit than we do, probably do not think of killing them because we do not have the ability to do so. But Saul, being the king, was able at his command to have someone put to death. That was the easiest way to get rid of somebody. Rather than simply dismissing him, he decides to kill him. And, as we will hear, he winds up tracking David all the way through Israel. It became an obsession - and all because of his own pride, all because of his own selfishness: He could not accept that somebody else was getting credit for doing something.
And so, we need to learn from this for ourselves. Once again, we probably are not going to track somebody down for months on end and try to kill them. But we need to be able to recognize where our own pride gets in the way. When we look at Our Lord, He did not want anybody to know who He was. He told the demons to be silent and not to reveal who He was. With regard to the people, He healed them but then He did not want them to be able to hang onto Him; He did not want them to be attached in a selfish way. So you see the selflessness of Our Lord - the fact that He is not seeking anything for Himself. On the other hand, we see the selfishness of Saul and that is what we need to learn: that pride is going to be destructive, not only with regard to our attitude toward others, but particularly to our own selves, to our spiritual lives. If we are seeking attention, if we are looking for glory, if we want things for ourselves, we are not going to be able to move any closer to the Lord. But if we learn from Our Lord to not be self-seeking, to simply act in charity for the good of the other person, and to not be trying to find anything for our own selves, and if we can rejoice in the good of others and we can glorify God for what He is doing in and for others and we do not have to be seeking only our own glory, then we are going to have true freedom.
That is where the charity comes in, but humility is necessary for that to happen. We see, with Saul, the lack of humility in that he could not accept that David received the credit, and he became angry. And so, for ourselves, if we want to be able to grow in charity, we need also to pray for and work on humility. Remember that charity is the greatest of all virtues. But the level of our charity is going to be equal to the depth of our humility. We cannot grow in charity without the humility; we need them both.
So if we look at Saul's pride - and we do not want that, and we look at the humility and the charity of Jesus - and we do want that, then that is where we need to work. Neither of those virtues is easy for us. Humility is very difficult because it means dying to the self; it means being humiliated and being made small. Charity is very difficult because it means giving, pouring ourselves out, going beyond ourselves. We do not like either one of those; neither comes naturally to us. Yet those are the greatest of the virtues, and in them all the other virtues are contained. It is a necessity for us, if we want to grow in the spiritual life, to develop those virtues. So that is what we need to pray for - for humility and for charity to be able to overcome our pride.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.