Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 312

The LORD said,
“There–anoint him, for this is he!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.

In today’s first reading we hear of David’s anointing by the last of the judges, Samuel. Unlike Saul, his predecessor, David retained a sense of modesty. As the least and last of his brothers he knew that God had chosen him not for his good looks or intelligence or physical strength but for God’s own purposes. As he matured he would learn to trust himself and his abilities with the understanding that God had chosen him to lead the people of God. 

Accepting and wielding authority are often difficult for us. Am I exercising my God-given authority as God directs me or toward my own purposes? Do I do choose something because it appears to be good; or because the Spirit of God has directed me to make that choice? In fact there are usually many “good” options but God may prefer only one. How do I decide?

Samuel was deeply sensitive to God’s will, so much so they seem to be in continual, whispered dialogue with each other. He knew God often chooses the least likely; and surely there was one boy among the seven that Jesse presented who seemed least promising; but still he waited for that other sign, an inner voice that would say, “There – anoint him, for this is he!” To everyone’s surprise it was the eighth boy, the missing one, who was chosen.

Our Holy Father Francis has generated a lot of excitement by his presence and style but I hope he is remembered as the Jesuit pope who introduced discernment to the Church. In his first apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, he wrote:

Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel. ¶ 20

To make this missionary impulse ever more focused, generous and fruitful, I encourage each particular Church to undertake a resolute process of discernment, purification and reform. ¶ 30

I encourage everyone to apply the guidelines found in this document generously and courageously, without inhibitions or fear. The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters, and especially under the leadership of the bishops, in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment. ¶ 30

The Original Francis, the one from Assisi, never did anything without much prayer. He was very suspicious of his own desires and would rather wait for days or weeks doing nothing than exercise his own preference. He might have asked, “What good could come of doing what I want to do?”

As we set off into this new year, let us habituate ourselves to God’s presence and listen for the silent voice which will teach us how to do his pleasure.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.