Monday, 18 January 2016

Holier than thou...

I don't normally take any notice of stuff on Rorate Caeli, I think the site is indecent....

However as they were good enough to highlight and warp the Holy Father's homily for today's readings, I feel inclined to draw out some exegesis of my own, making points that the Holy Father did not choose to draw out, but ones that are nevertheless relevant to us all.

The passage in question is 1 Sam 15:16-23.  I use the DRB translation because it is out of copyright.

And Samuel said to Saul: Suffer me, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said to him: Speak. And Samuel said: When thou wast a little one in thy own eyes, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed thee to be king over Israel. And the Lord sent thee on the way, and said: Go, and kill the sinners of Amalec, and thou shalt fight against them until thou hast utterly destroyed them. Why then didst thou not hearken to the voice of the Lord: but hast turned to the prey, and hast done evil in the eyes of the Lord. And Saul said to Samuel: Yea I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and have walked in the way by which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalec, and Amalec I have slain.  But the people took of the spoils sheep and oxen, as the firstfruits of those things that were slain, to offer sacrifice to the Lord their God in Galgal.  And Samuel said: Doth the Lord desire holocausts and victims, and not rather that the voice of the Lord should be obeyed? For obedience is better than sacrifices: and to hearken rather than to offer the fat of rams.  Because it is like the sin of witchcraft, to rebel: and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey. Forasmuch therefore as thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord hath also rejected thee from being king. 

If you care to read the preceding verses, the Lord makes it abundantly clear that NOTHING of Amalec must remain.  It is all tainted with evil, the whole lot.  It all has to be destroyed.  And of course we read this today in the spiritual sense, seeing Amalec as sin itself: something which must be rooted out completely.  Sin must not be found on the Lord's anointed (and these days, that is you and me folks, we are anointed). 

Now we transgress and transgress again.  That is human nature, and it doesn't make us failures.  BUT if the Lord gives us an instruction, then we follow it.  We cannot love Him unless we obey.  To be disobedient to a command of the Lord, especially when it was given personally, is serious stuff. 

Saul disobeyed the Lord.  He allowed his army to take booty and he did not slay Agag, king of Amalec.

It is Saul's response to Samuel's dressing down that interests me.  Saul says "yes but we used the best of the booty to make sacrifice to the Lord".  He is almost saying, "yes, but we honoured God most beautifully and timelessly (all lace and fiddleback chasubules), it really was all rather splendid and edifying".  But the Lord is not impressed. Saul is standing up for the Lord's people, to be fair that is honourable, but he most blatantly was not showing any leadership.  He most blatantly was not behaving like a king, even though he is being very nice to make excuses for his subjects.

If you are not obedient to His commands, then no amount of splendid worship will please God.

We still have the command to put the ban on sin, to eradicate it completely.  Nothing has changed except that it is now encompassed in the twofold commandment of loving God and neighbour.

So peeps of a traditional persuasion: have you put the ban on sin, are your spiritual leaders guiding you out of love of God and neighbour, have you really not tried to cover up some avarice and lust and mask it or excuse it through undertaking some fancy but traditional and male-only liturgical dance, ad orientem round the altar of sacrifice, as if doing so covers a multitude of sins?

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