1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19, 10:1a
Sometimes when one sees the person that a friend or family member has chosen to fall rapturously in love with, it can be a real head-scratching moment. "What in heaven’s name is she thinking? Why did she choose him?"
If one could be a cosmic observer, we might feel similarly perplexed about God’s devotion to us. Half the time we humans are fickle and self-absorbed, and that’s not even counting the times when our wrongs are of a more serious and damaging nature. But love us God does, loyally and abundantly and in the full light of our shortcomings.
We see this reality lived out in today’s Gospel when Jesus, God’s love made flesh, forgoes the educated and elite of his day-those seemingly most entitled-and chooses instead to invite the emotionally tattered, the psychically flawed, the physically scarred to dine at his table and be known by him. What unlikely and imperfect lovers we are for a God! And yet beloved we are.
Are we not witnessing an upending of the old order and the birth of new one in the Kingdom of God? It’s as if we, like poor Saul in the first reading, woke up one morning to do yet another of life’s mundane but necessary tasks, and in the midst of wandering about simply trying to get the job done, found we were to lifted to the height of human experience. Where’s the logic in that?
There is no explaining human or divine love; it is surely a mystery of the most mysterious proportions. If there is anything to be said with some certainty, it is that God’s love is not reserved for the most fitting or even the righteous. It is given to we who are in need of it; we who show up at the door to His kingdom penniless, rootless, confused, misguided, erring, a mess. It is we who God welcomes like a radiant lover, driving the head-scratchers crazy trying to understand why.
Nancy Nickel is director of communications at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.