Memory of the Church

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Prayer for the unity of Christians. Particular memory of the Christian communities in Africa.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Samuel 18,6-9; 19,1-7

On their return, when David was coming back from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel singing and dancing to meet King Saul, with tambourines, sistrums and cries of joy; and as they danced the women sang: Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands. Saul was very angry; the incident displeased him. 'They have given David the tens of thousands,' he said, 'but me only the thousands; what more can he have, except the throne?' And Saul watched David jealously from that day onwards. Saul let his son Jonathan and all his servants know of his intention to kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, held David in great affection; and Jonathan warned David, 'My father Saul is looking for a way to kill you, so be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding, stay out of sight. I shall go out and keep my father company in the countryside where you will be, and shall talk to my father about you; I shall see what the situation is and then tell you.' Jonathan spoke highly of David to Saul his father and said, 'The king should not harm his servant David; far from harming you, what he has done has been greatly to your advantage. He took his life in his hands, he killed the Philistine, and Yahweh brought about a great victory for all Israel. You saw for yourself. How pleased you were! Why then sin against innocent blood by killing David for no reason?' Saul was impressed by Jonathan's words. Saul swore, 'As Yahweh lives, I will not kill him.' Jonathan called David and told him all this. Jonathan then brought him to Saul, and David remained in attendance as before.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The text opens with one of the most beautiful descriptions of friendship found in the Bible, the one between David and Jonathan. From their first meeting the two feel immediately "connected" to each other for life. Their friendship reaches a level where they identify with one another. This is the meaning of the "covenant" established between them. Jonathan giving his clothes and armour to David is demonstrating more than just a generous act on the part of a prince toward the young pastor who has neither clothes appropriate for the court nor armour suitable for battle. Jonathan recognizes himself in David in an everlasting bond. Saul also delights in David for his success in the military missions he continues to give to him. The young leader's fame grows increasingly larger. Saul feels jealous and begins to suspect that David could be a threat; he thinks that the young man may dethrone him. Saul, however, needs David because he is the only one who helps him in his illness. But jealousy gnaws at him and has the idea to kill David while he plays to alleviate his pain. Subsequently, he sends David on more dangerous missions that result only in bringing David more success, in gaining more favour from the people. By now, Saul is convinced that David is an intolerable threat. If earlier he wanted to try to eliminate him discreetly, now he wants to do it openly. He shares his intention in confidence with his son Jonathan, who "took great delight" in David (v. 1). But Jonathan, because of his love for David, tells him what his father plans to do and urges him to go off to a secluded place. He then intercedes on David's behalf to Saul, saying that he is not only bold and brave, but has acted in good faith towards him. Saul, for the moment, allows himself to be convinced and promises that he will not kill David (v. 6), who is then reinstated in the court (v. 7). David then wins another battle against the Philistines (v. 8), but Saul burns with envy instead of rejoicing. By now the king's heart is completely consumed by murderous instincts. He decides to kill David the following morning when he comes out of his house. David's wife, Michal, knowing the king's intentions, let David down out the window so he could escape. Through Jonathan's friendship, God stops Saul's every attempt to carry out his plans.