Are You Like David or Saul?

In recent days, the first readings at daily Mass have told the story of the “tension” between David and Saul.  Saul had named as the first king of Israel but failed to follow God’s direction.  David fights in Saul’s army but Saul quickly becomes jealous.  Here is a brief outline of recent readings at daily Mass (you might consider reading the whole story in 1 Samuel 8 – 2 Samuel 1)

Friday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time Year 2, 1/12/24 – Israel asks for a king

Saturday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time Year 2, 1/13/24 – Saul is appointed king

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time Year 2, 1/15/24 – Saul fails to do as God directs

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time Year 2, 1/16/24 – God sends Samuel to anoint David

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time Year 2, 1/17/24 – David defeats Goliath

Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time Year 2, 1/18/24 – Saul becomes jealous of David and plots for the first time to kill David

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time Year 2, 1/19/24 – David has the opportunity to kill Saul but does not.

Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time Year 2, 1/20/24 – David laments Saul’s death

While Saul did not know that God had chosen David to succeed him as king, David did. David could have been eager to take the throne but he was not.  Saul was trying to kill David.  David could have killed Saul in self-defense and no human being would have faulted him for it.  However, David will not.  When Saul is killed in battle, David does not rejoice that he no longer needs to fear Saul.  David laments Saul’s death.

Who are you like?  Are you like David or Saul?  Are you prone to jealousy like Saul?  Do you look for ways to get your enemies out of your way?  Or do you, like David who values the life of Saul as the Lord’s anointed, respect the life of your enemies? 

How do you treat your enemies?  I’m not sure David would have even called Saul his enemy.  Do you have enemies?  Jesus calls us to love our enemies (see Matthew 5:43-48).  Jesus doesn’t teach us to love our enemies till nearly a thousand years after David is named king.  Yet, David shows his love for Saul in respecting Saul’s life.

Today, Jesus’ words to love our enemies need to be heard.  Why does Russia continue its attacks on Ukraine?  I don’t know.  For whatever reason, Russia has identified Ukraine as its enemy.  In the nearly two years since Russia first attacked Ukraine, what has been accomplished except death and destruction?

Do you have enemies?  Do you know why they are your enemies?

On October 7, 2023, after a long period without attacks, Hamas struck against Israel.  They have been enemies since the very beginning of Hamas.  Hamas exists because they are enemies (see David Remnick, “Letter for Israel, In the Cities of Killing.”  The New Yorker, November 6, 2023, pages 29-41. 33.  The article is available online at  Israel has a right to defend itself but Israel’s retaliation for the October 7th attacks have gone beyond reasonable defense.  There is a deep-seated hatred between them.  Military attacks will not eliminate hatred.  Only love will.  (Here I wish to make an important distinction.  Following the news, it is clear the prime minister of Israel wants to eliminate Hamas.  He has said so.  I am not convinced and doubt that all Israelites want the same.)

If you have enemies, how do you treat them?  Do you treat them with hate or with love?

There is a deep-seated “dislike” between the Israel people and the Palestinians/Muslims.  It has been a tense region for many years.  We presently see the Houthi attacking commercial ships in retaliation for Israel’s attacks.  How far are things from leading to a war much larger than just Israel and Hamas?

Restraint is in order.  We have U.S. military ships in the region defending the commercial ships in shooting down many missiles fired by the Houthi.  These are acts of defense.  There have been some strikes on Houthi bases by the U.S. and the UK.  I pray these are minimal and solely based to stop the Houthi attacks on commercial ships.  I am grateful that it has not become a full-scale war.  I pray for continued restraint by our military and pray for an immediate end to all military attacks by every government and organization I have named here.  They need to respect the life of every innocent person and, as much as possible, even respect the life of those who have guilt.  I pray that our U.S. government use its position as a world leader to work for a permanent cease fire.

One might say everything above is happening in another part of the world and, thus, doesn’t affect me.  It does affect us because world shipping is being affected and it could lead to larger wars.

There is a conflict for life that is going on in our own nation.  We are a divided people concerning life in the womb.  I am pro-life (see my series, Treating Life with Dignity and Love on Catholic pro-life teaching).  I know not everyone is.  There are people who are pro-choice.  They have free will just as I have free will.  I do not see them as my enemy just because they disagree with me.  I do not see them as evil because they disagree with me (and Catholic pro-life teaching!).  They are not evil.  They are misguided.

Any physical attack on my part against them would not help them understand my position.  Even a verbal attack of words would likely not help.  Attack is not the solution.  What is needed is genuine dialogue (how many times have I said this?). 

It might be easy to attack.  It can be much harder to dialogue.  We look at the situation from different viewpoints.  They look at abortion as an issue that is solely about choice, specifically a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body. 

For me, the only issue of choice here is to realize that, with regards to abortion, the woman’s choice is not the only choice to consider.  One might think that I am thinking about the father’s choice.  His choice in the matter is important to me.  The child in the mother’s woman is his child too.   

Please note that I said child.  It is not just a clump of cells.  It is not just part of the woman’s body.  Yes, the child is totally dependent on its mother in the womb.  For months, it will continue to be dependent on others after birth for its care. 

They think of it in terms of the woman’s choice.  I think of it in terms of life.  At the moment of conception, a unique individual is created.  It has a genetic makeup that has never existed before and will never exist after them.  I firmly believe that life begins at conception.  As a child with life, it has the same rights, including the right to choose as the mother is free to choose.  This is why I write, to support the choice of the unborn child.

The woman considering an abortion is not my enemy.  I pray that all people see that children in the womb are not the enemy of their mother. 

I know that rape is a terrible act that should never happen but a child conceived from a rape is not the enemy.  I do not want the child to become a victim.  I cannot imagine the pain of being raped.  Yet, I do not think an abortion helps.  I pray that women who are victims of rape choose life for the child, either raising the child as a loving mother themselves or giving the child to a loving husband and wife for adoption.  Love is the answer. 

Love is not easy but it is the better way.  I wonder how many times I have offended God by sinning.  I am thankful that God did not choose to hate for my sin.  God’s answer to my sin is not to destroy me.  God’s answer to your sin is not to destroy you.  God’s answer to your sin and my sin is to love.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).


Fr. Jeff