Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Three (Ordinary Time)
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
(Responsorial: Psalm 51)
In 2 Samuel 11: 1-17 David hit bottom. His sin was not only adultery but rape, because when he summoned to his palace the wife of Uriah, one of his faithful officers deployed in battle, she couldn’t refuse. When she became pregnant, and David realized he couldn’t hide from Uriah what he had done, he covered up his sin by having the army set up Uriah to die in battle. In this David was utterly contemptible.
And this is the man about whom God said, “I have found David… to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.” Now do we explain this? 1
First, we have to admit that we don’t have the slightest idea of what the words “steadfast love” mean—the “virtual definition of God” in the Old Testament—until we see the unimaginable “kindness and fidelity” (same words) God shows to his friends.
More specific to David’s case, however, is that God doesn’t narrow his focus the way we do. We characterize someone as “a murderer” or “a liar” or, during wars, as “an enemy,” and forget that no human can be reduced to just one element of being. How many wars would start or continue if every politician and soldier was acutely conscious that every “enemy” is a child of God? Or just whole human being with good and bad points like every other? How many people would we execute as “criminals,” if we didn’t forget everything else they are?
And how many people would leave the Church if they could not use the excuse of seeing just the sinners in the Church and not the saints? There is good and bad all through the Church, from the center, where clergy and laity live and work on ground level, all the way out through the bishops to the popes on the fringes. We need to keep ourselves aware of this and open our eyes.
Mark 4:26-34: To explain the growth of divine life in individuals and in the Church, Jesus says it is “as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.” We don’t know what is happening in peoples’ hearts; we just know that God never stops working on people and in people according to his “steadfast love.” He never gives up on anyone, and neither should we.
Or on the Church. If God could say to David, knowing how he would sin, “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever,” how much more sure are we that God will continue to live and work within his sinful Church? We need to keep the same “steadfast love” for the Church and for every person on earth that God does. God’s life may look like a mustard seed now; but it grows. We need to keep ourselves aware of that. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned speaks hope.
Initiative: Don’t judge anyone with partial vision. See all with God’s eyes.
1 Acts 13:22. Cf. Psalm 89:20 and 1 Kings 14:8.