I think that today’s readings speak to us of two virtues.
The first reading speaks of the virtue of obedience. Obedience to the command of God as relayed to Saul by the prophet Samuel. Saul tries to justify his plundering of the Amalekites by saying that the plundered goods were to be used for sacrifices to God. Samuel replies that God had forbidden plunder. He tells Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice. There is a message here for us. Sometimes we disobey the commandments. We try to justify ourselves by saying that our intentions were good or that we were unable to resist the disobedience. The words of Samuel make it very clear that God’s commands are to be obeyed. Like Saul, we cannot justify our disobedience. God tells us that if we seek His help we will be able to obey the commandments.
The second reading speaks of the virtue of love. Love of God rather than love of self. The Pharisees mentioned here wanted others to think well of them. That’s the wrong kind of love. Jesus speaks rather of love of God. The disciples and all the others listening should love Jesus because he really is God. Rather than fast, which does not reflect joy, they should rejoice to be in the company of Jesus. Jesus tells them that there will be time for fasting later when he is no longer with them here on earth. Again, there is a message here for us. We need to love God rather than ourselves. We do that by rejoicing when that is appropriate. An example would be the Christmas season. Like the wedding guests who rejoice with the bridegroom at the wedding, we rejoice at Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ. At other times we can seek to increase our love of God by practices like fasting which help us to reform our lives. But these practices should lead us to love God rather than self.
We all practice obedience in many ways. We obey the laws of our country, our state, and our city or town. Students obey the rules and regulations of the school they attend. Members of clubs, organizations, or social groups obey the rules of those organizations. But as followers of Christ, we practice the virtue of obedience by obeying the commandments of God and the laws of the Church. We do this because we want to follow Christ as closely and with as much devotion as we can.
We also practice love throughout our lives. We love our parents, our brothers and sisters, our spouses and our children. In loving those close to us we practice the virtue of love when we see Jesus in them. We increase our love of God through our love of those closest to us.
I think that today’s readings, which call our attention
to the virtues of obedience and love, can help us in our practice of those
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