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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Three (Ordinary Time)

My faithfulness and love shall be with him.

(Responsorial: Psalm 89)

In 2 Samuel 5:1-10 the people give power to David.

“The LORD said to you: It is you who shall… be ruler over Israel.” So all the elders… anointed David king over Israel.

They did it because they knew the Lord had chosen him. This is the only real and legitimate source of authority.

We obey authorities because they are over us in our employment, or elected officials, or sometimes because, literally or not, they are “holding a gun to our head.” We don’t need to believe they were chosen by God. To obey as Christians, however, we do need to believe God wants us to obey them; even if as the lesser of two evils; for example, so we won’t lose a job in which, in spite of the power structure, we are able to do some good.

The point is, there is peace in this. It is stressful and unhealthy to be working while, the whole time, a voice inside us is saying, “I shouldn’t have to be doing this!” That is to live with inner conflict. But everything changes if we say, “This is stupid,” or unjust, “but I know that, under the circumstances, it is what God wants me to do now. Thy will be done.”

This is the way Jesus went to the cross.

Just to keep ourselves aware, that in the last analysis we are obeying God—doing God’s will even in surrendering to something that in itself is not God’s will—this is what changes our burden into our cross; our frustration into fulfillment. True fulfillment is found, always and only, in doing God’s will. If we can be satisfied that God wants us to endure what we are enduring, even if God hates it more than we do, we can find peace. There is no stress in surrender. But we have to keep ourselves aware of whom are obeying. Our obedience is worship. Always. 1

Mark 3:22-30 approaches this from another angle. The “scribes” did not accept Jesus as an authority. They said, “Beelzebul is in him,” and “He casts out devils through the prince of devils.”

Not all authorities are idiots and tyrants. Some, perhaps the great majority, really are chosen by God; at least in the sense that, however they were appointed, God accepts them and tries to work through them. Normally we should presume this, and presume they also are trying to hear and follow God’s voice. But the scribes wouldn’t do this. Not even for Jesus.

Far worse than not being able to surrender to God through a tyrant is not being willing to surrender to God through one he has sent. If we reject people in whom the Spirit is speaking, Jesus says this can be to “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.” We may not like the message, but we should think twice before making rash accusations against the messenger. It may be God.

Initiative: Look always for signs of God’s presence before you reject anyone.

1 Reflect on Mathew 28:18; Luke 4:6; 7:8; 12:5; Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-8; Ephesians 1:17 to 2:3; 1 Peter 2:9-21; Revelation 20:4.

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