Reading (1 Samuel 18:6-9; 19:1-7) Gospel (St. Mark 3:7-12)
In the first reading today, we hear about the jealousy of King Saul, as the women sing about the fact that David had slain tens of thousands of people and yet they said that Saul had only slain thousands. Because of this, Saul decided he was going to kill David. Looking at it objectively, we might say, “How ridiculous can you get? Somebody sang a song you didn’t like, and you’re going to kill somebody over it?” But what we see is just exactly what jealousy and envy will do. They turn us inside out; they make us focus only on ourselves. And when we are focused on ourselves, then all that happens is we get more and more and more angry. Whatever it is we are upset about just becomes bigger and bigger in our minds because it is purely selfish.
On the other hand, what we see in the Gospel reading are people who are humble. They are humble because they are broken. They came to Our Lord and they pressed against Him because they wanted to hear Him and they also wanted to be healed. We hear about the people coming to Him with unclean spirits and being thrown to the ground by these spirits who would cry out the truth of Who Jesus was. But we see the difference in the people.
When we look in our own lives, we ask ourselves sometimes, “Why does God allow me to suffer? Why does God allow bad things to happen to me?” Sometimes we are even so foolish as to ask the question: “What did I ever do to Him?” Well, just think back to your past confessions and that should answer your question quickly. But regardless of all that, the fact is God loves us so much that He wants us to be humble. He does not want us to be so arrogant – and that is all jealousy and envy are, they are just pride – so as to lose our own salvation because of our pride, because of our selfishness. When we are broken, when we are weak, then we realize that we are dependent on Him. And because we are willing to be dependent on Him, like these people in the Gospel, we will come to Him and we will beg Him for healing. He may or may not heal us because some of us only want to be healed so we can go right back to our arrogance and jealousy and envy, and He knows that will be detrimental to us. So sometimes He does not heal us because it is better for us to be broken than it is to be healed, because, as I said, if we were healed we would go back to our old way of life; once again, we would fall headlong into sin and we would be right back in the same problem.
So if we look at ourselves and we see that, like Saul, we tend to be a very jealous person or an envious person, if we tend to be very arrogant about things, then we need to pray and ask the Lord to take it away. But you also need to brace yourself when you make that prayer because remember there is only one way this stuff is going to be removed, and that is to be crushed. It is not easy and it is not fun. But the question is: Is it worth going to hell for? Is it worth going to hell in order to be arrogant? in order to think you are so strong that you do not really need God? in order to think other people have something you do not and that therefore you should be angry or you should be jealous? No, there is absolutely nothing in this world that is worth going to hell over. Absolutely nothing.
It may be that it is not jealousy or envy or arrogance that is our problem; maybe we have a different one. We need to pray for God to take that away. But the point is that if we are very jealous people, or if we are arrogant, or envious, we see where it ends up. It will even get to the point where we will want somebody dead so we can have it our way. That is exactly what we see in the reading, and that is what the Lord wants to save us from, because you have to look at this and say that even though Saul wanted to kill David, the one who was really dead was Saul because he was spiritually dead. He was so caught up in himself that he could not see beyond. Consequently, he could not look to God and even rejoice in what God had done; all he could do was look at himself. He truly was the living dead. So we need to see that is the same thing that happens to us if we give in to these sorts of things. We need to pray against it. We need to be serious about praying against it, because when we are weak, when we are broken, when we are humble, then we come to the Lord, then we realize that we cannot do it by ourselves, then we realize that we are totally dependent on Him, and we will look to Him as our salvation.
That is precisely what He wants, and He wants that because He loves us; not because He is looking for any kind of attention or anything else – He does not need that – but because He knows what is best for us. He also knows what is worst for us, and pride and all of its forms is what is the worst. So we need to get rid of it all, and we need to turn to the Lord and humble ourselves so that we can depend on Him for everything. Whether that is the little things in this world, or whether it is the greatest thing – the salvation of our souls – it matters not. All that matters is that we recognize who we are, and that we recognize Who He is. When it comes to that, all we can say is we are not and He is; therefore, we are dependent on Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.