Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Free to Decide

Daily Readings
Psalm 102 + I Samuel 13 + Judith 9 + Hebrews 6

Quote of the Day
“For your strength does not depend on numbers, nor your might on the powerful. But you are the God of the lowly, helper of the oppressed, upholder of the weak, protector of the forsaken, savior of those without hope. Please, please, God of my father, God of the heritage of Israel, Lord of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of all your creation, hear my prayer! Judith 9:11, 12

Daily Text: I Samuel 13:3-15
3Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba; and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, "Let the Hebrews hear!" 4When all Israel heard that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines, the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal. 5The Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude; they came up and encamped at Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6When the Israelites saw that they were in distress (for the troops were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns. 7Some Hebrews crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
8 He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people began to slip away from Saul. 9So Saul said, "Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the offerings of well-being." And he offered the burnt offering. 10As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him. 11Samuel said, "What have you done?" Saul replied, "When I saw that the people were slipping away from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines were mustering at Michmash, 12I said, 'Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favor of the LORD'; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering." 13Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which he commanded you. The LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, 14but now your kingdom will not continue; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart; and the LORD has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you."
15 And Samuel left and went on his way from Gilgal. The rest of the people followed Saul to join the army; they went up from Gilgal toward Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul counted the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Free to Decide
As a commander of forces Saul was being successful. Israel had come out to fight with him, however, that does not mean the Philistines were laying down their arms. To the contrary they were mustering all of their forces to force a showdown at Michmash. Saul was waiting for Samuel. The wait was to be seven days and seven days he waited. Samuel did not come and naturally the gathering troops, volunteers all, began to be the disappearing troops. We are not told that Saul knew he should wait anyway, but that is my assumption. Saul knew that he was not to make a sacrifice, play the priest, call down God’s blessing as Samuel was called to do. But rather than risk smaller numbers, Saul made his decision and a fateful decision it was. The whole story of Israel was that they could trust God to be with them as long as they obeyed. Jonathan remembers; Saul forgets. Unwritten is the litany of mistakes he has made, but his nature was to make poor decisions, unstable decisions as we shall see in chapter 14. The freedom given him in 10:7 is second nature already. Amazing really, how little time is required to live into newfound power. He is king and he expects God to favor his decisions. However, God does nothing automatically.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

The Testing
Edwin Markham

When in the dim beginning of the years,
God mixed in man the raptures and the tears
And scattered through his brain the starry stuff,
He said, “Behold! yet this is not enough,
For I must test his spirit to make sure
That he can dare the Vision and endure.

“I will withdraw my Face,
Vail me in shadow for a certain space,
Leaving behind Me only a broken clue—
A crevice where the glory glimmers through,
Some whisper from the sky,
Some footprint in the road to track Me by.

“I will leave man to make the fateful guess,
Will leave him torn between the No and Yes,
Leave him unresting till he rests in Me,
Drawn upward by the choice that makes him free—
Leave him in tragic loneliness to choose,
With all in life to win or all to lose.”

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.


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