1 Sam 15:16-23 / Mark 2:18-22
Nowadays the word "obedience" seems to be used only in a limited way.
It is often used on children when they are told to obey their parents, as if they had a choice.
Even in the military, obedience is not a choice, and it is propagated under threat of punishment.
As we look at the 1st reading, we may wonder why Samuel was harping on the disobedience of king Saul to the extent that he was going to be disposed of as king.
We may think that what king Saul did was rather pragmatic, and that the best sheep and oxen from the booty was sacrificed to God.
But we must remember that the battles in the Old Testament were religious wars. It was not just one nation against another, but also one god against another.
Hence, the customary battle procedure of the "ban" was a primitive religious practice in which everything captured in battle was destroyed because it was considered as religiously profane and contaminated.
So king Saul not only made a defiled and unclean offering to God, he also did not make the sacrifice from what was his own.
When this is understood, then we will realize the seriousness of the extent of the disobedience of king Saul and why he was later disposed of as king.
In the gospel, the topic of discussion seems to be fasting. But the teaching of Jesus can be summarized in the last phrase of the gospel - New wine, fresh skins.
When applied to the spiritual observances of our faith like fasting and doing penance and observing the precepts of the church, we need to ask ourselves if we know the reason and purpose of such observances.
Because if we are unclear about why we are doing what we are doing, and especially when we find it burdensome or troublesome, we will rationalize it away and we will want to be pragmatic and practical.
We may think that we are smarter and more practical than the laws and the teachings of the Church.
But pride comes before the fall. King Saul succumbed to it. May we be wise and subject ourselves in obedience to God, least we fall.