FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
READ: 1 SAMUEL 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A
The LORD said to Samuel: "Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons." As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice, Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed is here before him." But the LORD said to Samuel: "Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart." In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen any one of these." Then Samuel asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" Jesse replied, "There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep." Samuel said to Jesse, "Send for him; we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here." Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance. The LORD said, "There—anoint him, for this is the one!" Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
If you look at advertising in magazines, on TV, through Facebook ads, etc., you will notice that almost all of it is an appeal to our appearance. Whether it's a commercial for a sale at a clothing store or an endorsement for a new weight-loss program, these advertisements exist to attempt to sell us something that will help our lives look, from the outside, more appealing.
And it's easy to get caught up and spend our days focusing on our exterior. It's easy to get sucked in and think that what matters most is how we present ourselves to other people--how we look, what we wear, how clean our house is, our physical strength, how put together our family appears. But today, the Lord reminds us of the opposite. That the most important thing, the thing that matters most to Him and that matters most for eternity, is the condition of our hearts.
We can spend time, money and energy trying to perfect our exterior, and sometimes we can do it to such an extent that our interior life suffers. And this is not what the Lord wants for us. This is not the abundant life that He created us for. He wants to remind us that the joyful, free life doesn't come from having it all together, playing the part, and appearing perfect. The joyful, free life begins when our hearts recognize that we are loved and provided for in the midst of the chaos, the mess, the sin, and the imperfection of every day life. "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart", and it is this heart, beating within you, that He wants most.
So what is the condition of your heart this day? Is it wearied from suffering? Is it worn out from worry? Is it tattered from sin? Is it joyful? Peaceful? Hopeful? Today, let us each be bold enough to lay down our masks and be honest with the Lord. With honesty and gratitude, let us welcome the Lord into our hearts--asking Him to heal what is broken, thanking Him for that which brings joy.
How do you see yourself paying more attention to your exterior appearance than to the condition of your heart?
Where do you find yourself trying to please other people above pleasing God?
Why is it hard to give more attention to our interior than our exterior?
What is the condition of your heart today?
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side With your rod and your staff that give me courage. You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come. R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
How can you focus more on your interior life today?
Use the song below as an added reflection on today's reading and psalm.
"When I taste your goodness, I shall not want."
Let that be the pray that arises as we welcome the Lord into our hearts this day.