Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr
1 Samuel 15:16-23;Psalm 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23; Mark 2:18-22
Obedience is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22)
If you’ve ever had to wrestle toddlers to get them fed, dressed, into car seats, and then into church, you understand what a sacrifice it is just to make it to Mass. And then comes the hard part: that special “toddler rodeo” where you and your spouse bounce them around to keep them quiet. Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth going to Mass at all!
There may be times for us all, in the cold of winter or as we face the aches that come with age, when getting to Mass is a challenge. But we push ourselves out the door and into the pew, and we feel good that we are doing what God wants us to do.
That’s getting into Mass. But have you ever walked out of Mass unable to remember the Gospel or a single point from the homily? Or maybe you hear the message but don’t act on it? Sometimes even the closing command to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” is just too hard. You can’t even be peaceful and loving in the chaotic parking lot after Mass!
In today’s reading, we see that Saul has done 90 percent of what God has asked him to do. God has told Saul to exterminate all of the Amalekites, including their king, and that none of the plunder should be taken for personal use. Well, Saul destroys most of the Amalekites, but he spares the king and the best of their animals. He claims these animals are for sacrifices to God. When Samuel learns about this, he is furious. God doesn’t want Saul’s sacrifices. He wants Saul’s obedience.
Sometimes we, too, find ourselves in the position of obeying only partway. We may have sincere intentions, but we draw a line with the Lord. Then, like Saul, we make excuses and hope to get away with it. But God wants our hearts. He wants to show us how rewarding it is to obey him fully—even if it makes us uncomfortable.
Today, examine yourself to see if there is an area of your life in which you are holding back. Ask the Lord to help you change. Decide to act on the plans God has for you. Don’t stop at 90 percent!
“Lord, show me where my obedience falls short of your plans for me. Teach me to trust in you completely.”~WAU