19 Jan. Thursday of Week Two
1 Samuel 18:6ff. Saul becomes jealous of David, but Jonathan helps to reconcile them.
Mark 3:7ff. Great crowds press around Jesus. Unclean spirits cry out in his presence.
Enthusiasm and Realism
Despite a temporary reconciliation between Saul and David, and despite the enthusiasm of the crowd pressing on Jesus, peace is threatened on all sides. The pact between Saul and David fails to remove the roots of jealousy and irrational fear in Saul’s heart. The suspicion of the Pharisees is fanned to hatred by the crowd’s enthusiasm for Jesus.
As men and women of faith, we often feel caught in contradictions, like Jesus himself. Our life is a pilgrimage whose destiny lies beyond the horizons of this earth, in those heavenly places where Jesus has already gone “behind the veil”. We are asked to achieve what is beyond our unaided human ability. Each of us is a strange mixture of bonding with Jesus and embarrassment at his demands, or even at times just plain tedium about all religion. While close to our relatives and neighbours, yet we know deep in our heart the seeds of jealousy or resentment that still lie hidden.
It is helpful to recognize the tensions inherent in the life of faith. In faith we accept as real what we cannot prove nor see; we rely on faith that the goal of life lies beyond the present earthly existence. Tension and conflict bring about a deeper understanding of our lives, even a mature wisdom. The Scriptures advise us to discern carefully. What we think is strong and effective (like King Saul) may prove to be only a passing shadow. What seems to be the blind excitement of the crowd may be the everlasting instincts of faith. One day we will be with Jesus behind the veil and like Jesus we will know, even as we are known by Him.
1 Samuel 18:6-9; 19:1-7
As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they made merry, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Saul was very angry, for this saying displeasd him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day on.
Saul spoke with his son Jonathan and with all his servants about killing David. But Saul’s son Jonathan took great delight in David. Jonathan told David, “My father Saul is trying to kill you; therefore be on guard tomorrow morning; stay in a secret place and hide yourself. I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you; if I learn anything I will tell you.” Jonathan spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him, “The king should not sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have been of good service to you; for he took his life in his hand when he attacked the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great victory for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced; why then will you sin against an innocent person by killing David without cause?” Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan; Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” So Jonathan called David and related all these things to him. Jonathan then brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.
Gospel: Mark 3:7-12
Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.