Second Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Sam 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.
Gospel: Mk 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.
THEY REMAINED SILENT: In our readings today, we see two types of silence: that of the dead Philistine, and that of the Pharisees. That of the Philistine comes after his arrogance towards God’s people. He trusted in human strength and not God. That of the Pharisees is brought about by arrogance towards God’s power working in Jesus. Perhaps they are also jealous. In the Gospel Jesus shows us that human need surpasses mere observance of laws, and no wonder he is angry, and grieved by human hypocrisy. Jesus restores life since the man needs his hands to work for survival and to fend for himself. If we remain arrogant like the Philistine or like the Pharisees, we shall fail to see the power of God. We shall not be able to reach out to the needy. Jesus is inviting us today to be prudent in our observance of the law, and to give priority to the needy.
Prayer: Lord, help us to save life than to merely seek to fulfil the law.
HEALING POWER OF JESUS: The theme of the gospel passage is of life and death. Within this broad issue there are three contrasting situations. The first of these is between Jesus and the Pharisees, which revolves around two different approaches to the Law. The second is between the man with the withered hand and the Pharisees – one has a withered hand and the others a withered heart. All are in need of healing. The third lies in the response to what the Father has to offer through Jesus; being receptive, in the case of the man with the withered hand, and unreceptive and hostile, as in the case of the Pharisees. All of this has to do with the overall issue of the choice each person has to make: between life and death. The episode is therefore of universal application. Are we receptive or not to what God has to offer? Do we want or not to establish a relationship with Christ, the source of life?
A CLASH OF IDEAS AND A CONFRONTATION OF VALUES: Things were becoming more complicated. Jesus is again confronted by an angry, but more determined group whose only aim is to trap him. Jesus does not try to play it safe. With the prying eyes of the deputation from the Sanhedrin on him he goes about doing what he believed needed to be done. He speaks a line to the Pharisees: “Is it lawful to do good on Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?” The lesson to us is that whenever we set out tending lives and cultivating persons, we need to have a foundation of self-trust. This means keeping the promises one made to oneself. Jesus says, “I always do what pleases my Father” (Jn 8:29). Besides practicing self-trust any leader has to possess and display personal qualities: courage and trust promoted by steady character and competence. Jesus is such a model of these qualities. He trusts in the Father who in turn trusts fully in Him. Let us be rooted in the trust on our Father in heaven.