03 Feb 2024 – Saturday of Week 4

03 Feb 2024 – Saturday of Week 4

Optional Memorials: St Ansgar, 9th century French born Archbishop of Hamburg who preached in Denmark and Sweden. Apostle of Scandinavia and Patron of Denmark.      St Blaise, Bishop of Sebaste, martyred in Armenia in 315. A physician and patron of people who suffer from disease of the throat.

1st Reading: 1 Kings 3:4-13

Solomon prays for understanding, to distinguish right from wrong

The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”

And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this, your great people?”

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honour all your life; no other king shall compare with you.

Responsorial: Psalm 119

R./: Lord, teach me your statutes

How shall the young remain sinless?
By keeping to your words.
With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands. (R./)

Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes. (R./)

With my lips I will declare
all the decrees of your mouth.
In the way of your commands I rejoice,
as much as in all riches. (R./)

Gospel: Mark 6:30-34

Jesus gets the apostles to come and rest awhile; then pities the people, as sheep without a shepherd

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place by yourselves and rest a while.” For so many were coming and going, that they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.


Prayer supports life

Today’s reading from 1 Kings offers an example of choosing the right priorities. Solomon is praised for asking God for the right things, the things that matter. Like an Aladdin with his magic lamp who was invited to wish for whatever he liked, Solomon’s request was not for a long life, or for riches or victory in battle, but for understanding. Interestingly, the promise to Solomon came in a dream at night. Dreams imply a time of retreat from the everyday rush, when God can access our subconscious mind, a time of perception, when we recover our better self, when we are not distracted by selfish wants and petty concerns.

Times of retreat and reflection are necessary, as Jesus told the disciples, “Come apart and rest a little.” The peace we seek is not a human creation; it is God’s special gift. The rabbis considered the Sabbath, along with the Torah, as God’s supreme gifts to his chosen people. We need the some stretches of un-programmed silence, when God can speak to our inner selves.

On the other hand, when Jesus saw the crowd he pitied them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd and he began to teach them at length. He leaves his prayerful solitude behind to share the word of God with the crowd. We need an integrated harmony of prayer and activity, to follow his example.

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