First Reading: From First Samuel 16:1-13
1 Yahweh said to Samuel, ‘How much longer do you mean to go on mourning over Saul, now that I myself have rejected him as ruler of Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have found myself a king from among his sons.’
2 Samuel replied, ‘How can I go? When Saul hears of it he will kill me.’ Yahweh then said, ‘Take a heifer with you and say, “I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh.”
3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I shall reveal to you what you must do; and you will anoint for me the one I indicate to you.’
4 Samuel did what Yahweh ordered and went to Bethlehem. The elders of the town came trembling to meet him and asked, ‘Seer, is your coming favourable for us,’
5 ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ He purified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they arrived, he looked at Eliab and thought, ‘This must be Yahweh’s anointed now before him,’
7 but Yahweh said to Samuel, ‘Take no notice of his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him; God does not see as human beings see; they look at appearances but Yahweh looks at the heart.’
8 Jesse then called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel, who said, ‘Yahweh has not chosen this one either.’
9 Jesse then presented Shammah, but Samuel said, ‘Yahweh has not chosen this one either.’
10 Jesse thus presented seven of his sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Yahweh has not chosen these.’
11 He then asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ Jesse replied, ‘There is still one left, the youngest; he is looking after the sheep.’ Samuel then said to Jesse, ‘Send for him, for we shall not sit down to eat until he arrives.’
12 Jesse had him sent for; he had ruddy cheeks, with fine eyes and an attractive appearance. Yahweh said, ‘Get up and anoint him: he is the one!’
13 At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him, surrounded by his brothers; and the spirit of Yahweh seized on David from that day onwards. Samuel, for his part, set off and went to Ramah.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 89:20, 21-22, 27-28
20 ‘I have found David my servant, and anointed him with my holy oil.
21 My hand will always be with him, my arm will make him strong.
22 ‘No enemy will be able to outwit him, no wicked man overcome him;
27 So I shall make him my first-born, the highest of earthly kings.
28 ‘I shall maintain my faithful love for him always, my covenant with him will stay firm.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of St. Mark 2:23-28
23 It happened that one Sabbath day he was taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples began to make a path by plucking ears of corn.
24 And the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing something on the Sabbath day that is forbidden?’
25 And he replied, ‘Have you never read what David did in his time of need when he and his followers were hungry-
26 how he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the loaves of the offering which only the priests are allowed to eat, and how he also gave some to the men with him?’
27 And he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath;
28 so the Son of man is master even of the Sabbath.’
Theme: The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath
What does the commandment “keep holy the Sabbath” require of us? Or better yet, what is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders confronted Jesus on this issue. The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom.
When David and his men were fleeing for their lives, they sought food from Ahimelech the priest (1 Samuel 21:1-6). The only bread he had was the holy bread offered in the Temple. None but the priests were allowed to eat it. In their hunger, David and his men ate of this bread. Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was given for our benefit, to refresh and renew us in living for God. It was intended for good and not for evil. Withholding mercy and kindness in response to human need was not part of God’s intention that we rest from unnecessary labor. Do you honor the Lord in the way you treat your neighbor and celebrate the Lord’s Day?
“Lord Jesus, may I give you fitting honor in the way I live my life and in the way I treat my neighbor. May I honor the Lord’s Day as a day holy to you. And may I always treat others with the same mercy and kindness which you have shown to me. Free me from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek the good of my neighbor.”