First reading 1 Samuel 15:16-23

Saul disobeys the Lord and the Lord rejects him

Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop! Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.’ Saul said, ‘Tell me.’ Samuel continued, ‘Small as you may be in your own eyes, are you not head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king over Israel. The Lord sent you on a mission and said to you, “Go, put these sinners, the Amalekites, under the ban and make war on them until they are exterminated.” Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you fall on the booty and do what is displeasing to the Lord?’ Saul replied to Samuel, ‘But I did obey the voice of the Lord. I went on the mission which the Lord gave me; I brought back Agag king of the Amalekites; I put the Amalekites under the ban. From the booty the people took the best sheep and oxen of what was under the ban to sacrifice them to the Lord your God in Gilgal.’ But Samuel replied:
‘Is the pleasure of the Lord in holocausts and sacrifices
or in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice,
submissiveness better than the fat of rams.
Rebellion is a sin of sorcery,
presumption a crime of teraphim.
‘Since you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.’
 

Responsorial Psalm 49(50):8-9,16-17,21,23

I will show God’s salvation to the upright.
 
 
‘I find no fault with your sacrifices,
  your offerings are always before me.
I do not ask more bullocks from your farms,
  nor goats from among your herds.
 
‘But how can you recite my commandments
  and take my covenant on your lips,
you who despise my law
  and throw my words to the winds,
 
‘You do this, and should I keep silence?
  Do you think that I am like you?
A sacrifice of thanksgiving honours me
  and I will show God’s salvation to the upright.’
 

Gospel Mark 2:18-22

‘Why do your disciples not fast?’

One day when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they could not think of fasting. But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak; if he does, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine, fresh skins!’
 
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Newness of Jesus

 
In today’s gospel, it was difficult for both John’s disciples and the Pharisees to understand the ways of Jesus and how faith should be lived out. All along, their understanding of living the faith was focused strictly on following the rules and regulations of the law. However, Jesus showed a new way to live faith as more than obeying norms. Instead, it is to live in a relationship with God Himself. They were invited to be open to this newness of relating to God in love.
 
We, too, are called to live in the same newness of faith – of being in a loving relationship with God. Our faith becomes alive from this relationship with a personal God that gives us joy. Today, let us heed the invitation of Jesus to be open in welcoming the newness that He brings into our lives. Let us perceive the presence of Jesus walking with us in life so that we can rejoice in His company as the bridegroom’s attendants rejoice in the presence of the bridegroom.
 
Reflective question:
How can I welcome the newness Jesus brings to my life?
 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year B” by Sr Monika Punan FMVD.