I am on the planning board for a major interfaith Women of Spirit
Conference which is held annually in our region. As we planners
gather, sometimes weekly as the conference approaches, it is both
a joy and a challenge to stay present to the process of listening
to one another…as we plan and make decisions of how best to
create the conference so that it offers opportunities of growth,
sharing and connection for all who will attend.
The process is not unlike what each of us may find in our day to
day lives of deciding and doing that to which it is that God is
Today, we remember St. Anthony, the Abbot, a man who also tried
to discern how he could best respond to God’s call in his
life. Though strongly attracted to a hermit’s life, Anthony
was sought out by others for advice and insight as well as by those
who wished to live the life he had chosen. Anthony had to respond
to the needs of others, trying to discern what it was that God wanted
of him even though he strongly felt that God’s call to him
was one of prayerful seclusion.
In the first reading, Samuel struggles with God’s call to
anoint someone more worthy of being the leader, a king for the people.
Samuel is well aware that Saul, the first anointed, has proven that
he is unable to follow God’s path. Samuel is very uneasy,
knowing that he will be in disfavor with Saul if he anoints another
to lead. However, Samuel follows God’s call to seek a son
of Jesse, to be open to God’s direction in order to anoint
one who will be the new king/leader for the people. The newly anointed
is not to be an obvious choice in Samuel’s eyes, but rather
one that God chooses, “…because Samuel sees the
appearance but God looks into the heart.” Thus, David,
the youngest and least likely son of Jesse to be chosen in human
terms, is anointed as the new leader/king.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is criticized for allowing his followers
to pick grain on the Sabbath. Jesus reminds his critics that David
also allowed his followers to seemingly break the law in order to
feed their hunger from the bread of the offerings that was only
allowed to the high priests. Jesus’ words, “The
sabbath was made for people, not people for the sabbath,”
knowingly opened Jesus to attacks by the Pharisees.
There may be a certain reluctance in realizing how much responsibility
comes in our decision making…perhaps wanting to just ‘give
up,’ let things go as they will… but God’s spirit
of care and compassion is available to us as we struggle with that
which comes into our day, our area of responsibility.
However, just as working to consensus as a group takes time and
attention, so does communing with God. Regardless of how busy our
lives may be, it is of utmost importance to step back, invite God
into our lives and reflect/meditate, pray and ‘be still’
so that God can offer to each of us what it is that will be our
light/insight into what really makes a difference in our lives and
the lives of others.
My prayer is that I will remember to turn to God, take the time
to ‘be still’ and listen to what God wishes to share
with me, especially in this hectic time before our big conference.