A Cycle – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time 17

Today’s readings once again show us the difficulties of embracing God’s plan for our lives and how easily others can and do hinder us from finding our own place in God’s plan of salvation.

God is unhappy with King Saul because Saul is no longer listening to God. Therefore God tells Samuel to go to Jesse and to anoint one of his son’s as king.  Samuel does not want to upset King Saul so he devises a plan to mask his intended purpose of anointing a new king of the Israelites. Samuel is going to Bethlehem where Jesse lives in order to offer a sacrifice to God.  The elders of the Bethlehem and Jesse and his sons are given an invitation to join this man of God as he offers a sacrifice to God.   

After the sacrifice Jesse’s son’s come before Samuel one by one.  Each son was acceptable in Samuel’s judgment but not in God’s. If you just listen to the story it is easy to miss how God is revealing things that directly apply to our own call to be disciples gifted to achieve something for the kingdom of God. 

Did you ever wonder why was David left behind by Jesse when he and his sons went to the sacrifice? 

 The scriptures do not tell us why but let’s imagine the possibilities.  Could it be that even in his father’s eyes there was nothing significant about David?  Jesse knew someone needed to tend the flocks but why David and not one of his hired hands. I think he was left behind because it provides a great lesson for us in how we ourselves and others place obstacles between ourselves and God because of a belief we are inadequate to serve God. 

We are inadequate because of our sinfulness, our lack of education, lack of boldness, lack of ability to speak or a thousand other things we lack. So we stay home tending the flocks or someone holds us back instead of allowing God to anoint us for the task he created us to achieve.  

One lesson you can see in throughout the scriptures is how God always uses the most unlikely, insignificant, the despised and the unqualified to fulfill his plan. 

If you think I am wrong just look at the great figures of scripture.  Abraham, the one called our father of faith, lied about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife in order to save his own skin. Moses had trouble speaking yet God sends him to pharaoh to set his people free.  Gideon when he was chosen said “please Lord not me, I am insignificant.”  Thomas had doubts.  Peter was unpredictable, impulsive and was even called Satan by Jesus. Jeremiah was too young and was depressed.  Matthew was a tax collector. Jesus used a Canaanite woman to teach a lesson about faith.  Joseph was abused. Jacob was insecure.  Elijah feared for his life.  Paul was in poor health. Timothy had a lack of commitment and these are just a few of those used by God. 

Today, David an insignificant youth consumed with lust leading to murder and yet he is the not only chosen by God but called a man after his own heart.   You heard the scriptures, Samuel he would have picked another because like us he was looking at externals which tell us nothing of what God has gifted them to do for the kingdom.

We also have today this man who was blind from birth and he like David is used to teach us a lesson about how we judge others and how easy it is for us to become entrenched in what we believe is the proper way to encounter God. 

Listen to the man’s words and hear the pleas of so many who need to be touched by God.  That man explaining how he was healed said, “…that man called Jesus touched me…”  How many people are longing for a touch of God to be healed while we sit back and judge their worth?  We don’t do that do we – judge others worth to be used by God or to be loved by God?  

What about those individual who stand on the street corners with signs asking for money? Do we even acknowledge them by giving them something or speak to them or do we ignore them.  What about the shut-ins who long for someone to visit them?  We judge others constantly by our own standard of right and wrong. We also judge God every time we cry out “where were you when I needed you.” 

Listen to the words of those witnessing the blind man’s healing and you will discover some spiritual truths God reveals to us.  His parents would not even stand up and rejoice over their son’s healing.  They are worried about the opinion of the Pharisees so they refuse to say how he regained his sight.  The Pharisees judged him and Jesus because of their rigid belief in the law would not allow such a healing to be done. Do we have those same “religious elite Pharisees” among us judging others worthiness to receive God’s grace?  Of course we do.

Paul says to us that “we hold to a form of religion but deny the power of it.”  There are Pharisees today just as there were Pharisees in this story quick to judge others state of grace.

So this man’s parents remain silent to conform to the standards established by the law allowing no room for mercy or acknowledgement of God’s ability to move in miraculous ways.   They are afraid of being expelled so they remain silent. Controlled by the “religious elite” they will follow the law, the rituals and the demands of the creed rather than acknowledge God desires mercy not sacrifice.

Discipleship demands we follow the law written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This means that like the woman with the hemorrhage we will break the law of conformity to get to Jesus. This means we listen to God and are willing to step out of the boat and walk on water. This means we put our hands to the plow and never look back. This means we say like Mary “let it be done to me according to your will.” 

We need two things to become sons and daughters of God.  We need to say to God I want to do what you have created me to achieve for the kingdom of God. We need to say to God I want you to pour your Holy Spirit into me and change my heart as you promised me you would do in order for me to do you will. 

Then like the man born blind and the woman at the well we acknowledge who it is speaking to us and offering us the very thing we need to be witnesses of his glory, his mercy, his forgiveness and his power to fill us with joy.  

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