Saint Francis de Sales, bishop, doctor of the Church (Memorial)
He came to the sheepfolds beside the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. The men of David said to him, "Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you." Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul's cloak. Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul's cloak. He said to his men, "The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord's anointed." So David scolded his men severely and did not permit them to attack Saul. Then Saul got up and left the cave, and went on his way.
Afterwards David also rose up and went out of the cave and called after Saul, "My lord the king!" When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. David said to Saul, "Why do you listen to the words of those who say, 'David seeks to do you harm'? This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave; and some urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, 'I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord's anointed.' See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the corner of your cloak and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. May the Lord judge between me and you! May the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. As the ancient proverb says, 'Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness'; but my hand shall not be against you. Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A single flea? May the Lord therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you. May he see to it, and plead my cause, and vindicate me against you."
When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, "Is this your voice, my son David?" Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, "You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. Today you have explained how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. Now I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand."
Have mercy on me, God, have mercy
for in you my soul has taken refuge.
In the shadow of your wings I take refuge
till the storms of destruction pass by. (R./)
I call to God the Most High,
to God who has always been my help.
May he send from heaven and save me
and shame those who assail me.
May God send his truth and his love. (R./)
O God, arise above the heavens;
may your glory shine on earth,
for your love reaches to the heavens
and your truth to the skies. (R./)
Jesus went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
By summoning his chosen colleagues for a teaching session on a mountainside, Jesus evokes memories of Moses who went up Mount Sinai to receive God’s law (Ex 19). The message his disciples are to spread is a new spirit that goes deeper than just a set of laws. A divine impulse let David to spare king Saul’s life. This act of clemency surprises Saul and makes him ashamed of his own murderous hunt for his younger rival, David. The future king David shows high regard for the monarchy when he shouts out, “I will not raise a hand against the Lord’s anointed.” In face of such magnanimity, Saul “wept aloud.” There is a sense of “noblesse oblige ” in this story, of doing the noble thing rather than taking vengeance.
Jesus goes up the mountainside as the place to choose the twelve apostles. In the Bible, mountains are often privileged places for prayer and for temples and sanctuaries. Mystics have embraced the mountain imagery as the place to experience God more closely. This mountain scene invites us to find our own special places, to be aware of God’s providence in our lives. A prayerful spirit helps us to renew our personal bond with Jesus.
He selected the twelve from among the larger group who followed him. Two elements stand out in this episode. First, these twelve were to be his regular companions, following him each day, noting all that he did and said. Second, he sent them out to preach and to heal, actively sharing in his own mission. They needed to get to know him thoroughly before going out to do his work. This twofold pattern still applies to all Christians, to some degree. We are meant to actively share in the Lord’s work, sharing his spirit with others. In order to do this, we need to get to know him well, being in his company him through prayer. Our reaching out in prayer creates space for God to work in us and through us. The choice of the twelve by Jesus is an iconic reminder of what he wants to do for us and through us, as his ambassadors.