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A Needle Pulling Thread

First Reading: 1 Samuel 15:16-23

Samuel said to Saul:
“Stop! Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
Saul replied, “Speak!”
Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem,
are you not leader of the tribes of Israel?
The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying,
‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction.
Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’
Why then have you disobeyed the LORD?
You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD.”
Saul answered Samuel: “I did indeed obey the LORD
and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me.
I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban.
But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen,
the best of what had been banned,
to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal.”
But Samuel said:
“Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as in obedience to the command of the LORD?
Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission than the fat of rams.
For a sin like divination is rebellion,
and presumption is the crime of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the command of the LORD,
he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50:8-9, 16BC-17, 21 AND 23

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel: Mark 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

NAB

jan 18 (1)

If there’s one thing I miss from my good old “spiritual, not religious” days of college, it’s being lazy. It was so easy to be spiritual because, being a self important 20-something, you can be spiritual about anything—late nights, early mornings, frozen pizza and bad wine. You can claim your spirituality anywhere, as long as it doesn’t require that much from you. Oh, those were the good old days.

Then something changed, maybe I changed or maybe the world changed or maybe I decided I wanted to change the world and somehow I knew that I couldn’t do any of that in the happenstance, when-it-came-to-me way I had been approaching my faith for the last few years. I was very good at living my life, but who could say how well I was living the life God gave me? Looking back, a bit older and much wiser, I can answer this “not very.”

It was easy to let faith fill up the space I gave it. Like the wineskin and the old coat of the Gospel reading—it’s easy to go about your faith life in a haphazard way, going by instinct and piecing things together a bit here and a bit there; but like the coat and the wineskin we know that this is not the way to best use your materials.

I went to school to learn, essentially, how to sew. I know many correct ways to patch a hole and the first lesson that you often learn is that haphazard patching will just lead to a bigger hole. You prepare a tear—you may have to cut out a little bit more to get ride of the weak points. You prepare a fabric and not just anything will do. There is knowledge and skill that goes into making something new again.

Just like a coat with a hole I needed to stop patching my beliefs with bits and pieces, because though it did the job, it wouldn’t have held up in the long run. Just like the many pants and coats I’ve repaired over the years I need to prepare myself—snip out a little more over here, reinforce there, and sometimes I had to know when to just start over. It’s not easier to live this way—it requires work and knowledge and skill. I have to give myself over to something bigger than myself and realize that my gut instinct is not always right, that my own will and whims do not always lead me down the right path.

And just like that carefully patched and mended jacket, when done right with care and skill, I can emerge a little more worn, but a little bit better than I was before.

Where are you piecing together your life that needs a new clean seam? Where are you not fully embracing the life God has in store for you? Don’t avoid it, go towards it.

Molly Walter is a wife, mother and homemaker (with a pesky job outside the home).  She shares about making the life she wants with the life she’s been given over here.

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