- Father David M. Knight
Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Four (Ordinary Time)
Listen, Lord, and answer me!
(Responsorial: Psalm 86)
2Samuel 18:9 to 19:3: When Joab, the head of David’s army, caught up with David’s rebel son, Absalom, who was helplessly entangled in the branches of a tree, he had no scruples about killing him. By killing his prisoner, Joab won the war. But David did not rejoice.
The king was deeply moved.., and wept… “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
…So the victory that day was turned into mourning… The troops stole into the city that day as soldiers steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle.
All Joab thought about was winning the war. David thought about his son. And we are like Joab whenever we kill—whether in war, in executing criminals, or in taking the life of the unborn.
We are so used to “spin” in our society that we take it for granted. We fall into it ourselves. A clear example is the dishonesty of both “pro choice” and “pro life” militants. “Pro-choice” does not include the right to destroy one’s own body by suicide or pollute the environment. They are only “pro” the right to kill unborn babies. Dishonest.
Those who call themselves “pro life” are just as dishonest unless they are also “pro” saving the life of condemned criminals by abolishing the death penalty, and of enemies in wars by espousing nonviolence. If not, they have a limited focus. Just like Joab.
Do the parents of those condemned for murder want to see their children executed? How does God feel about it? Or when his children kill his children in war? We are not in tune with God when we celebrate war victories. Even those who believe Christ was excluding war when he said, “Those who want to save their life will lose it,” should agree there ought to be no such thing as a victory celebration over the bodies of the dead.1
One gets the impression that those who have actually been in combat are the least enthusiastic about celebrating their victory. Their memories are not all joy.
It is a matter of what we choose to be aware of. The threat to our well-being posed by a baby in the womb, a criminal in jail or an enemy at war; or the mystery of the value each has in the eyes of our Father. And the even more overwhelming mystery of God’s unlimited, unrestricted love for the innocent and guilty alike. Jesus died for all. His “new commandment” is: “Love one another as I have loved you.” We need to keep ourselves aware of that. 2
Mark 5:21-43: Nothing is more tragic than the death of a child. But Jesus was aware that death is simply a pre-resurrection nap—and raised up a twelve-year old to prove it. To give hope, faith requires awareness. And if we keep ourselves aware of the whole mystery of our faith, we may see dying as a better choice than killing.
Initiative: Open your eyes to the Christian understanding of life and death.
1 This is one of the texts repeated word-for-word in Matthew (16:25), Mark (8:35) and Luke (9:24).
2 John 13:34; 15:12. And see the story of the “prodigal son,” Luke 15:11-32.