Friday, January 22, 2010

He Summoned Those Whom He Wanted And They Came To Him.

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I                 1 Samuel 24:3-21
Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel
and went in search of David and his men
in the direction of the wild goat crags.
When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he found a cave,
which he entered to relieve himself.

David and his men were occupying the inmost recesses of the cave.
David’s servants said to him,
“This is the day of which the LORD said to you,
‘I will deliver your enemy into your grasp;
do with him as you see fit.’”
So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul’s mantle.
Afterward, however, David regretted that he had cut off
an end of Saul’s mantle.
He said to his men,
“The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master,
the LORD’s anointed, as to lay a hand on him,
for he is the LORD’s anointed.”
With these words David restrained his men
and would not permit them to attack Saul.
Saul then left the cave and went on his way.
David also stepped out of the cave, calling to Saul,
“My lord the king!”
When Saul looked back,
David bowed to the ground in homage and asked Saul:
“Why do you listen to those who say,
‘David is trying to harm you’?
You see for yourself today that the Lord just now delivered you
into my grasp in the cave.
I had some thought of killing you, but I took pity on you instead.
I decided, ‘I will not raise a hand against my lord,
for he is the LORD’s anointed and a father to me.’
Look here at this end of your mantle which I hold.
Since I cut off an end of your mantle and did not kill you,
see and be convinced that I plan no harm and no rebellion.
I have done you no wrong,
though you are hunting me down to take my life.
The LORD will judge between me and you,
and the LORD will exact justice from you in my case.
I shall not touch you.
The old proverb says, "From the wicked comes forth wickedness."
So I will take no action against you.
Against whom are you on campaign, O king of Israel?
Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, or a single flea!
The LORD will be the judge; he will decide between me and you.
May he see this, and take my part,
and grant me justice beyond your reach!”
When David finished saying these things to Saul, Saul answered,
“Is that your voice, my son David?”
And Saul wept aloud.
Saul then said to David: “You are in the right rather than I;
you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm.
Great is the generosity you showed me today,
when the LORD delivered me into your grasp
and you did not kill me.
For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed?
May the LORD reward you generously for what you have done this day.
And now, I know that you shall surely be king
and that sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession.”
Saul's war with the Philistines had saved David's life; but Saul did not not stop pursuing David.  David had only 600 men, who were not trained as soldiers.  Saul had five times as many, and they were well trained and experienced in battle.  But God was protecting David.  When David heard that Saul was coming to find him, he and his troops hid in a cave. 

When Saul entered the cave, he had no idea David and his men were hiding in the deep recesses of the cave.  But David's men reminded him of the Lord's promise:  "This is the day of which the Lord said, 'I will deliver your enemy into your grasp; do with him as you see fit."  David knew that God had anointed Saul as king of Israel.  He honored God's choice, and would not kill Saul or to allow his men to hurt him.  He knew that if he opposed Saul, he would be opposing God.  So he approached Saul quietly, and cut off a piece of his royal mantle.  It was an act he immediately regretted, since he had "laid a hand on the Lord's anointed". 
He forbade his men to attack Saul. 

When Saul left the cave, unaware of what had happened, David followed him, and called out to him.  David showed respect to Saul, whom he addressed as "My lord the king".  He bowed in homage and showed Saul the piece he had cut from the royal cloak.  David  told Saul that his men were lying about him.  He called Saul, "my father".  David had married Saul's daughter Michal, so he was a member of the king's family. 

When David finished saying these things, Saul answered, calling David, "my son".  He did not insult David as "the son of Jesse" Now Saul realized that David was not his enemy.  He knew that David was the one Samuel had spoken off, and that David would succeed him as king of Israel.  He knew that David could have killed him in the cave, and spoke a blessing on him for his mercy.  "Now, I know that you shall surely be king, and that sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession."

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Responsorial          Psalm 51

R. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God; have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
In the shadow of your wings I take refuge,
till harm pass by.
R. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
I call to God the Most High,
to God, my benefactor.
May he send from heaven and save me;
may he make those a reproach who trample upon me;
may God send his mercy and his faithfulness.
R. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
above all the earth be your glory!
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.
R. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
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Gospel                  Mark 3:13-19
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James,
whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
In today's Gospel, Jesus goes up a mountain. It has no name because the symbolism that is more important than the location. Mountains in the Scriptures are holy places associated with the presence of God. Jesus goes up mountains at more solemn moments in his public life: here, during the Sermon on the Mount, at the Transfiguration, and after feeding the 5,000.
Jesus’ purpose on this occasion is to pick the inner circle of his followers. “They were those whom he wanted.” Later he will say: “I have chosen you; you have not chosen me.” And “they came to him”. A call includes both the invitation and the response. The same is true for each one of us. The call is always there; can we say the same about our response?

There were twelve in this inner circle of disciples. They are called “apostles", a word to be clearly distinguished from “disciples”. The "disciple", which comes from a Latin word meaning "to learn", is essentially a follower who listens to the instructioon of the teacher and tries to make it part of his life. The "apostle", however, from a Greek word meaning ‘to go out on a mission’ (like an ambassador), is essentially one who has a mandate to pass the teaching on to others.
In the letters of Paul, where the term appears most often in the New Testament, it means primarily one who has been a witness of the Risen Lord and has been commissioned to proclaim the resurrection. Paul himself, because of his experience at Damascus, is regarded as an Apostle.

These Twelve were to be Jesus’ companions. They were to preach, that is, proclaim his message of the Kingdom and work with him to make it a reality. They were to cast out demons, to liberate people from all situations which enslaved people to any form of evil.

The list is headed - as are all lists of the Apostles - by Simon Peter. For Mark, the name Peter was given on this occasion. In Matthew it is given later, following his confession of Jesus’ identity. Strangely, the list includes included one man who would betray his Master and Lord. And today there are still those, called by Jesus, who betray him. What about me? “Is it I, Lord?” “There go I but for the grace of God.”

1 comment:

Sarah in the tent said...

Saul and David: I've been reading The Merchant of Venice and wondering what Shylock meant when he said to Gratiano (who was pleading for Antonio's life) that he could be countered by no prayers 'that thou hast wit enough to make'. Maybe this incident would have been the right argument for mercy. The relationship between Shylock, Antonio and Jessica is similar to that between Saul, David and Michal. David scrupulously follows God's law to show mercy to Saul. Portia/Balthasar applies the law strictly to force Shylock to be merciful.