Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

In direct contrast to the servants we heard about yesterday, king Saul does not do as the Lord commanded. After the defeat of his enemies, rather than getting rid of the spoils of war as the Lord said, Saul decides to offer up the plundered sheep and cattle as sacrifices to God. To this the response God gives through Samuel is rather blunt. “Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the LORD? Obedience is better than sacrifice; to listen is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Sm 15:22)

Saul decides to obey his way. ‘I did what you asked, but on my terms.’ We often do this with God, and with one another. ‘You asked me to take out the trash last week, but I will get around to it when I’m ready.’ ‘I forgive him for what he said, but after I get in a couple words of my own.’ When St. Ignatius was writing up the description of how Jesuits were to obey the pope, he said that as soon as the Jesuit knows the place he is to go and how he is to serve the people there, he shouldn’t even ask the pope for travel money to get there. Why should the people of God have to wait for such a servant until someone else finds the funds to transport him. Let the Jesuit beg his way to France or Spain or wherever if need be. As soon as he knows there is a need in the Church, that should be motivation enough to find his way there to meet that need.

The Lord offers to make us new, to put the fresh wine of His grace in the fresh wineskin of a generous heart. We must let go of the old and fragile wine skins, let go our need to set terms on how we will serve one another. May the loving Lord give us that spirit of generosity in doing whatever He tells us.

January 18th, 2016