”God is more pleased to behold the lowest degree of obedience, for His sake, than all other good works which you can possibly offer to Him.”--Saint John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church
Scripture Text: (1 SM 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.”
There may be times for us all, in the cold of winter or as we face the aches that come with age, when getting to Mass is a challenge. But we push ourselves out the door and into the pew, and we feel good that we are doing what God wants us to do.
That’s getting into Mass. But have you ever walked out of Mass unable to remember the Gospel or a single point from the homily? Or maybe you hear the message but don’t act on it? Sometimes even the closing command to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” is just too hard. You can’t even be peaceful and loving in the chaotic parking lot after Mass!
Sometimes we, too, find ourselves in the position of obeying only partway. We may have sincere intentions, but we draw a line with the Lord. Then we make excuses and hope to get away with it. But God wants our hearts. He wants to show us how rewarding it is to obey him fully—even if it makes us uncomfortable.