The first reading tells us that before God, obedience to his command is much important than sacrifice and burnt offerings, for reasons we do not understand God told Saul through Samuel to “attack Amalek and destroy completely all that he has, Do not spare them- man, woman, infant or suckling, ox or sheep, camel or ass.” In total victory Saul “spared the best sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord… But the rest have been destroyed.”
God was most displeased with Saul, “Why then did you not obey the voice of God but instead swooped down on the spoil, doing what is evil in his sight?”
For Saul’s disobedience, “since you have rejected the word of God, he too has rejected you as king.”
God’s ways are indeed not our ways: “Obedience [to him] is better than sacrifice, and submission better than the fat of rams.”
In the Gospel reading Jesus tells the people that he has come to bring a new dispensation: his followers may not be fasting now; as in a wedding feast they do not fast. But times will come when they have to fast. Even more, they will endure trials and sufferings as himself would.
Fasting and penance are good and most helpful. Jesus has come to stress the law of love as he declared when he washed the feet of his disciples at the last supper: “If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also must wash one another’s feet.” (Jn 13: 14) “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15)
His law of love simply reiterates love of God and neighbor as the supreme commandment.