Memorial of St. Afnes, virgin and martyr
(I Samuel 18:6-9.19:1-7; Mark 3:7-12)
Life’s tragedy lies not in becoming old but in not becoming wise. King Saul in the first reading should realize that the chorus of women praising David’s accomplishments is as fickle as weather on the prairie. If he were a wise man, he would not worry that the people favor David to himself but concentrate on how he, as king, might serve their needs.
Certainly Saul’s son Jonathan shows promise as heir-apparent. He wisely reconciles grudges for the good of all concerned. In shuttle diplomacy he goes from his father to his friend, showing the truth to the former and reassuring the latter. In the long run, however, Saul’s reasserted jealousy seals the family tragedy. Both he and Jonathan will die at the hands of their enemy while David, who might have saved the day, is isolated from the battle.
We should locate the virtue that Saul lacks and that which Jonathan exhibits in the Lord Jesus. Since he knows how pursuit of praise may interfere with life’s purposes, he commands the demons in the gospel not to make his identity known. Yet he never ceases to do good – curing diseases and reconciling with themselves people whom demons have self-alienated.