Saturday's scriptures give us the best advice from the most perfect career counselor we could ever find — a Divine One. 1) accept God’s word and follow his plan. Samuel did, accepting his position as a seer. That will probably not happen to us, but God is asking us to do as well as we can with the life He has given us. 2) Don’t be “full of yourself”. The talents we have come from God. Don’t be like the Pharisees, judging themselves better than others. As the passage in Mark indicates, Jesus came to save all of us, both the righteous and the sinners.
Image by Engin Akyurt
By Norm McGraw
I’ve been told I’m lucky because I've always known what I wanted to do with my life (be a musician) since I was seven. I’ve managed to scratch out a living from it. Many people spend a good amount of their lives discovering their vocation. In either case, we all make mistakes as we strive for our goals. All of us would want a career counselor to help us avoid the pitfalls that occur not only in the course of our jobs but also in our lives.
Saturday’s readings show God’s abilities as the ultimate career counselor. In the first reading, from the 1st Book of Samuel, God chooses Saul to be the first human King of the Israelites. In the second reading, from the 2nd chapter of Mark, Jesus explains why he chooses to minister to sinners and the righteous.
To better understand the reading from Samuel, it is necessary to summarize the content from both the 1st and 2nd books. They recount God's relationship with Samuel the prophet and with the first two human kings of the Israelites, Saul and, later, David.
In the 1st book, the Hebrew people ask the prophet Samuel to help them choose a king. Samuel tells Saul that God has chosen him to be king. God used Saul to win great victories over Israel’s enemies, especially the Philistines. However, Saul disobeys God’s commands to destroy the Israelites’ enemy, the Amalekites, completely. Instead, Saul takes their booty for personal gain. As a result of his sin, he falls out of favor with God and eventually loses his kingship. Consequently, later in the 1st book, God directs Samuel to tell a young David that he will be king, anointing him as the future monarch. Although Samuel grieves over Saul’s sinfulness, he follows God’s wishes, anointing David.
The 2nd book details his significant reign. Because of that, God assures David that his sons will follow him on the throne. However, he also sins against God by taking another man’s wife, Bathsheba. That sin affects his life negatively, both personally and politically.
Of the three main characters in the books of Samuel, only Samuel follows God’s plan faithfully throughout his life. 1 Samuel 9 describes Saul searching for the prophet, a seer, a foreteller of the future. After he finds him, Samuel pours oil on Saul’s head, saying: “The LORD anoints you commander over his heritage. You are to govern the LORD’s people, Israel, and to save them from the grasp of their enemies roundabout.”
What Samuel always recognized was that all his marvelous talents depended upon God. The Responsorial Psalm explains it well: “O LORD, in your strength the king is glad; In your victory how greatly he rejoices! You have granted him his heart’s desire; you refused him not the wish of his lips.”
The second reading from Mark (Mark 2:13-17) is a subtle reminder that our position with God is more important than our position in life. In this passage, the Pharisees, the Hebrew religious leaders at the time, are upset that Jesus and his disciples eat with sinners and tax collectors. (At that time, tax collectors were considered as bad as sinners.) Jesus responded, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Sometimes, we believe that we are righteous and forget that all of us are sinners. That is why it’s important to accept the talents that God has given us with humility. My good friend Tim Trainor made this point in his recent reflection entitled “Grant me the Grace of Humility.” He quotes the great 13th-century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas, who defines humility as “the virtue that consists in knowing oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior.” Certainly, God is our superior.
The two readings from Scripture give us the best advice from the most perfect career counselor we could ever find — a Divine One. That advice is: 1) accept God’s word and follow his plan. Samuel did, accepting his position as a seer. That will probably not happen to us, but God is asking us to do as well as we can with the life He has given us. 2) Don’t be “full of yourself”. The talents we have come from God. Don’t be like the Pharisees, judging themselves better than others. As the passage in Mark indicates, Jesus came to save all of us, both the righteous and the sinners.
Let God be your life counselor. After all, wouldn’t the Being that created us know what’s best for us?