Reading (1 Samuel 16:1-13) Gospel (St. Mark 2:23-28)
In the first reading today, we hear about the anointing of David as the king of Israel. It is one of those fascinating things, again, to see the way God works. We hear about how Samuel sees Eliab and thinks to himself, “Surely, the Lord’s anointed is here before me,” because he was tall and strong and handsome and all the external appearances were there; but the Lord had rejected him because it is not by appearance that the Lord judges, as He tells Samuel, because the Lord sees into the heart. Man sees only the appearance, but God sees the reality and the depth of the being. So as Jesse presents seven sons before Samuel, the Lord rejects them all. But the one who had not even been invited, the one who was considered too young, too inexperienced, in essence, the one who was considered to be the least and who was now tending the sheep, he was the one whom God chose.
Now for all of us, all we have to do is go home and look in the mirror, and we are going to see pretty much the same basic pattern. We are going to see that God chose the ones the world would not expect, in fact, more than likely, the ones even people within our own families would not have expected. Yet these are the ones God picks because God looks at what is on the inside. The other half of the problem is that within our own lives we know what is on the inside, and we know that what is in there is not always too impressive, that we have committed many, many offenses against the Lord. And we wonder, “Why is it that God would choose the likes of me if there are so many sins?” But God not only sees the sinfulness that is there, He also sees the goodness that is there; He sees what it is that He has placed within us.
Unfortunately, Satan also sees what God has placed within us, and because the devil is able to recognize what God’s intent is with each one of us, he attacks us. Interestingly, he attacks us oftentimes in the very area that God is intending to work in order to use us. But regardless of that, what we need to see is we are just like David, whom God had chosen, Remember the problems David got himself into. He committed adultery; he committed murder; he did all kinds of heinous things. Yet what did God say about him? Here is David, a man after My own heart who will do My will. Now we look at his sinfulness, and we say, “But how could God say this about this man?” It is because not only did God see the unfortunate things David was capable of, but He saw that what David really intended in his heart and what he wanted was to do the Will of God. And it was only through his stupidity that he came to realize that only by relying on God was he going to be able to do God’s Will.
Once again, we see the human problem: arrogance. David got caught up in himself, as probably somewhere along the line all of us have done too. We think ourselves to be somehow impressive. We forget about God and we look at ourselves and we think ourselves better than what we are, or we think we can do it by ourselves. We will tell the Lord when we need His help; otherwise, we are just fine all by ourselves. So we take matters into our own hands and fall flat on our face. The Lord sometimes allows even some pretty hideous sins to take place in our lives in order to bring about the humility we need in order to do His Will. It is not that He wants us to commit those sins, but He will use those sins to bring about a greater good.
We see, then, for ourselves that what we have to do is keep our heart focused on God, that we have to learn the lesson to seek the Lord’s Will, to go to Him for the grace we need to do His Will. Otherwise, we will be like David and commit some pretty stupid sins. At the same time, we also learn from David the importance of repentance. We see the mercy of God, and so we know that His call is irrevocable. We also know that if we are willing to do what God wants, if we are intent on seeking His Will, that He will give us the grace we need to be able to carry it out. He will not make it easy, necessarily. Again, look at Samuel. God asks him to go to Bethlehem, and what is Samuel’s first response? But Saul will hear of it and kill me! God asked Samuel to go – did Samuel really think God was going to let him be killed? We see the human response; we see the fear. We simply need to learn to trust God, to seek His Will, and not worry about anything beyond that. He will handle it all. That is an important lesson we need to learn.
So we see all of these lessons in this one little reading. God does not choose the ones the world would choose. God does not choose the ones that externally look to be the most impressive. God does not choose what, on the natural level, we would think to be most important. God knows what is in our hearts, and if God has chosen us, it is because He knows that we will do His Will, or that we want to. What we have to do now is to make that act of the will, to seek the Will of God, and to try with all our hearts to carry out His Will. Otherwise, we will learn the lessons the hard way. It is much easier just to say that we want to do His Will, to seek Him in prayer, and try to carry it out.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.