At first glance the two readings might seem to have nothing to do with each other, but in fact I believe that they are closely related. The key passage in the first reading is one that has always been a little frightening to me. God says to Samuel: "Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance, but the LORD looks into the heart." I find this a bit unsettling, because — as with, I believe, all humans — there is plenty in my heart that I don't want anybody to see. There lie all of my weaknesses, temptations, unfulfilled desires and unholy thoughts.
In the Gospel, the Pharisee sees only as a human. He sees only the disciples' actions and attempts to condemn them on that ground alone, without looking into their hearts. This earns him Jesus' famous rebuke that "the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath."
With this sentence, Jesus answers the warning from the Old Testament that I find so unsettling. He knows that we are flawed, that we make mistakes, that we sometimes have unholy intentions — but Jesus waits there to save us nonetheless. Salvation lies there as a gift for us to accept. None of us is truly worthy (even the great king David was a deeply flawed human being, and many of the Psalms are surely anthems to his regrets for his sins), but Jesus waits for us patiently with his hand extended, waiting for us to take it.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook