Obedience, not excuses

Readings for Monday January 18, 2009

First Reading: 1 Samuel 15:16-23
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50
Gospel: Mark 2:18-22

Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem, are you not leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction. Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’ Why then have you disobeyed the LORD? You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD.” Saul answered Samuel: “I did indeed obey the LORD and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban. But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen, the best of what had been banned, to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal.” But Samuel said: “Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the LORD? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams. For a sin like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry. Because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he, too, has rejected you as ruler." (1 Sam 15:17-23)

Have you ever met someone who just seems to have an excuse for everything? Some people are pros at never owning up to what they have done, but are great at giving an explanation about the circumstances to which they are dealing with. These people also have a great way to spin the truth to make it look like everything is completely fine. We see that King Saul in today's first reading has done the same thing, he has given a perfectly good excuse as to how he has fulfilled the Lord's request.

Samuel seems to call him out here, because Samuel knows that if Saul had truly followed the Lord's command, then Saul would have followed every detail of the Lord's request. Instead, Saul has interpreted the Lord's will how he wanted, and instead of conforming to God's will, Saul has conformed God's will to his own. And when confronted about this, he gives Samuel a perfectly good excuse. The truth is that the Lord does not want excuses, long explanations, or interpretations ... He wants obedience. Samuel tells Saul (and us), "Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams." (1 Sam 15:22) The truth is that there is no gray area when it comes to doing God's will, it is we have either done as He wants or we did it our way; we were either obedient or we weren't.

God loves us so much, and if we really want to show Him that we truly love Him too then we should be willing to surrender our lives to Him and be obedient to Him no matter what. It is obedience, not excuses that show our love to our Lord.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help increase our faith so that we may be obedient to you through all that we do. Lord, we love you and praise you for all that you bless us with. Help us treat ourselves and others as the gifts that we are. We pray for all of those in need of conversion and all those who are distant from you, that they may find true peace and joy in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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