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Browsing Reflections Archive

January 17, 2022

Daily Reflection for Monday, January 17, 2022

Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners,

We encourage you to reflect on Monday’s readings at this link:

If you prefer to use your own Bible, the readings are:
First Reading: 1Samuel 15:16-23
Responsorial: Psalm 50: 8-9,16 bc-17, 21, 23
Gospel: Mark 2:18-22

Our reflection on Monday’s readings:
Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you? Psalm 50:16-17

What’s the bare minimum I have to do?  As I write this, I am in quarantine with COVID 19.   I am chafing against the rules that say I can’t work, when I feel better and we are so shorthanded at the clinic where I work.  I am seeking out a legalistic framework to justify doing what I want -- “The CDC says only 5 days!” -- and not what is necessarily the best choice for my employer or those around me.

In today’s first reading, Saul is looking for a loophole.  The Israelites had clear rules about sacrifices that were required for just about everything.  So many bulls and sheep for this, a few pigeons for that.  Saul has not obeyed God’s clear command to completely destroy the mortal enemy of the Israelites, the Amalekites, and all their property.  He has saved the choicest sheep and cattle and then tries to justify it by telling Samuel it was because he intended to sacrifice them to the Lord in thanksgiving for his victory.  He did indeed owe thanksgiving to the Lord but this would cost him nothing from his own flocks.  God didn’t ask for this sacrifice, he asked for obedience and got Saul’s counter offer instead.

In the Gospel we find the letter-of-the-law Pharisees looking for justification from Jesus that their interpretation of what was needed to be a pious Jew was the only correct path.   Jesus asks them to be more open to alternative ideas -- there is no one checklist!   That would be easier and would let us off the hook to stop our efforts once we had done that minimum, especially if we are capable of doing more.  In the verses that follow today’s passage Jesus starts to expand on the definitions of the Ten Commandments.  No, we should never kill anyone.   But killing another’s spirit by calling them a fool can be every bit as injurious.  Open your mind to this new definition of sin and it requires much more profound change in our behavior.

I ask Jesus frequently what he would have me do in a certain situation.  Sometimes I hear a clear answer, one that challenges or scares me a little.   If it scares me or is inconvenient, I start looking for the escape clause.   Maybe I didn’t hear you clearly, Lord?  You mean right now?  Couldn’t I just send a check instead?  Jesus isn’t satisfied with checking boxes, and we shouldn’t be either.

Break out the new wineskin and let Jesus fill it with his convention-challenging wisdom.

Kathy Cohenour


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