1st Week, Saturday, Jan 18th: Reflections & Liturgy

1 Sam 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1 / Mark 2:13-17

God chooses Saul as king: Samuel anointed Saul.
Saul was unusually gifted as a person. He “was a foot taller than anyone else in Israel and more handsome as well.” 1 Samuel 9:2
After Saul was anointed, “the spirit of God took control of him.”
The people were amazed, saying, “Has Saul become a prophet?” 1 Samuel 10:10, 11 “After Saul became king of Israel, he fought all his enemies everywhere…. Wherever he fought he was victorious.” 1 Samuel 14:47
God had blessed Saul in every way. If anyone seemed destined for greatness, it was Saul.
How has God blessed us similar to the way he blessed Saul?
“What is man, that you think of him; mere man, that you care for him? . . . You crowned him with glory and honor. You appointed him ruler over everything you made.” Psalm 8:4-6
To be the first in anything is indeed a great achievement. It is not just a rank or a position. It is also foundational and directional. For example, to be the first president of a country, or the first foreigner to be to acclaimed for an achievement, or the first intake into an elite school, all this say something more than what it means to be just first.

In the 1st reading, we heard how Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel.

For whatever foundations and directions, he set in his kingship, for better or for worse, he will always be remembered as the first king of Israel.

Yet whenever we talk about "first" we tend to think of those in the spot-light, the elite and those who make the headlines.

Yet who were the first followers of Jesus?  None other than people like Levi whom He called to follow Him.

As well as those tax collectors and sinners, and the gospel makes it a point to say that there were many of them among His followers. So, most of them were not named in the gospel but they set for us a foundation and a direction. We don't have to be great achievers in order to follow Jesus; we just have to confess that we are sinners. After all Jesus did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.

*1st Week, Saturday: Liturgy: GOD CALLS THE WEAK*


God has his own plans and standards, which are often at variance with our human wisdom. For example, he calls sinners – limited, deficient people – and they are good enough for him to do God’s work, even to be entrusted with a special mission. Saul is taken from an insignificant tribe of God’s people. He responds at first, but fails later.
Matthew is a typical sinner, a tax collector, one who was not only exploiting his own people but a traitor to them as a collaborator with the Romans. But he responds to Jesus’ call and becomes an apostle and martyr, faithful to the end.

*Opening Prayer*
God of mercy and compassion, you call weak people, sinful as they are, to give shape to your dreams about people and their world and to be instruments of salvation. Give us trust, not in our own strength, but in the power of your love, which can do through us and with us what we ourselves are incapable of. We thank you for calling us out of our frailty and alienation through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

“Looks aren’t everything” is a common axiom. This is certainly the case with Saul. He is a man of remarkably good looks who is anointed by Samuel, at God’s direction, as Israel’s first king. In his life, he shows some remarkable traits. For example, he never shirks from his duty to defend his people from alien forces. Yet, in many ways he is not a faithful Yahwist. He turns violently on the young David, a member of his court, whom he sees as a threat to his own sovereignty and therefore a person to be eliminated. His repeated attempts do away with David are recorded in the First Book of Samuel. When Saul’s son, Jonathan, becomes David’s cherished friend, Saul is infuriated. It is only when Saul and Jonathan die in battle that the way is paved for David’s ascendancy.
Saul, the anointed of God, is rejected as king. He is the son of disappointment. Such is not that unusual in life. It very often happens that a highly regarded person ends up as something less than expected. This can be a very painful experience. It reminds us that our primary hope must be placed in God, with the hope that the human components will work toward a positive outcome.
When Jesus calls Levi to follow him, he has a certain result in mind, a certain hope for Levi. Levi also has to move forward in faith, hoping to do the right thing. It is the same with us. We may not be sure of the outcome of a course of action, but, if the cause is right, we know that it is worth the effort. As the old saying goes, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

*Points to Ponder*
Envy and the fall of Saul
Election and free will
Stepping out in faith

– For the Church, a community of saints and sinners, that we the people of God, and our leaders may not so much condemn those who fail but give them new chances in life, we pray: 
– For people who have failed often and no longer dare believe in themselves, in God or in the community, that they may draw new courage and hope from our understanding and compassion, we pray: 
– For priests and religious, that they may keep trusting in the Lord who called them notwithstanding their human weakness, and that with Christ, they may care especially for the poor and the weak, we pray:   

*Prayer over the Gifts*
Lord, our God, your Son did not deem it below his dignity  to go to the houses of sinners  and to eat and drink with them.  We are thankful that here today, he sits at table with us, weak people.  We recognize your merciful love.  All we can say is: Thank you, Father, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.   

*Prayer after Communion*   
God, in this Eucharist, we have experienced your forgiving mercy and your call for hope and trust in you.  May we never look down on people struggling against their weakness or too tired to stand up.  Help us to recognize in them our own flesh and blood torn apart and crying out, aloud or in silence, for an understanding heart and a helping hand.  We ask this through Jesus Christ. our Lord.   

How daring of Jesus, how sure of himself! Jesus chooses one whom all consider a public sinner and makes him his apostle, to build his Church on him, similar also on some other apostles, who will show signs of great weakness. God trusts us. Let us also trust him and ask for the blessing of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.