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Daily Meditations

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2022 – SECOND WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME 

1 SAMUEL 17:32-33, 37, 40-51

David spoke to Saul: “Let your majesty not lose courage. I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine.”But Saul answered David, “You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him, for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth.”

David continued: “The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear,
will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “Go! the LORD will be with you.”

Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag. With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine.

With his shield bearer marching before him, the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David. When he had sized David up, and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance, the Philistine held David in contempt. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?” Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods and said to him, “Come here to me, and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.” David answered him: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you  have insulted. Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand; I will strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will leave your corpse and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God. All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves. For the battle is the LORD’s and he shall deliver you into our hands.”

The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters, while David ran quickly toward the battle line in the direction of the Philistine. David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone,
hurled it with the sling, and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone embedded itself in his brow, and he fell prostrate on the ground. Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone; he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword. Then David ran and stood over him; with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath he dispatched him and cut off his head.

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MARK 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.  There was a man there who had a withered hand.  They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him.  He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

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Jesus, knowing the thoughts of the Pharisees, reveals to them their own hypocrisy by asking them if it is lawful to do a good deed or an evil one on the Sabbath.  They have presented him with the man with a shriveled up hand, hoping he would heal him so that they could accuse
him of breaking the Sabbath law.  Apparently, in the warped view of the Pharisees, healing is against the Sabbath law but plotting to kill someone is not.

Before we get too comfortable thinking how obvious the hypocrisy of the Pharisees is, we need to put ourselves into the story.  The Gospels are not dead documents relating historical events that occurred two thousand years ago.  They are faith documents that live today and have meaning for each of us.  Can I see in the hypocrisy of the Pharisees a message for me today?

When reading this passage I was reminded of a time a few years ago when I acted somewhat Pharisaical.  One of my pet peeves used to be people praying the rosary during Mass, especially during the homily. It isn’t that I don’t think the rosary is a powerful prayer, I just don’t think it was appropriate during Mass.  During the homily one Sunday I looked out into the congregation (I was not the one preaching) and saw a man praying the rosary.  The man was too young to have learned this habit as an adult in the pre-Vatican II days when the Mass was in Latin.  I remember thinking to myself, “Look at that. That man isn’t paying attention to the homily.”  Then suddenly the words came into my head, “And what are you paying attention to?”  That incident comes to my mind each time I find myself judging the disposition of others at Mass.  That usually happens when I am distracted and not paying attention myself.  If I had been paying attention, it is doubtful I would have noticed someone else not paying attention.

The point is that the Pharisees were guilty of hypocrisy because they judged Jesus guilty of breaking the Sabbath law by doing a good deed, but broke the same law themselves with an evil deed.  We must be careful that when we judge the actions of others, we are not guilty of a more serious offense ourselves at the same time.

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Lord Jesus, help me to be less concerned about the faults of others and more concerned about my own sinfulness.  Keep me free from the leaven of the Pharisees.

 Deacon Ed

 

 

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