I Have Found my Servant, David
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Second Week of Ordinary Time
by Fr. David M. Knight
I have found David my servant.
(Responsorial: Psalm 89)
1Samuel 16: 1-13 tells how God chose David to replace Saul, to whom Samuel said that, had he obeyed, “The LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.” But God called David “a man after his own heart,” and never rejected him. Why?
David raped the wife of a faithful officer, and ordered him murdered in a shameful way to cover up his crime. Was Saul’s sin worse than that?
David broke God’s law in a way that was horrible. But he did it out of passion and weakness. He abused his power like most kings did. But he did not go against God’s personal, direct command to him; while Saul disobeyed in a way Samuel called “rebellion” and “no less a sin than divination” or idolatry. “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”
We have to ask two things about sin; what it does to others, and what it does to us. What it does to us is determined mostly by what it expresses. By doing this, what am I saying (and therefore making real) about my relationship with others? And above all, with God?
Who I am, my personal identity, is determined by the choices that establish the relationships I choose to maintain with God, other people and the rest of creation. In that order. The relationships I choose define me as a person. By every choice I augment or diminish, am faithful or false to, some relationship.
Life-determining acts, good or bad, are those which express the choice, conscious or not, to maintain or destroy the relationship I have with another. Sins that destroy our graced relationship with God are called “mortal.” They include sins that destroy the fundamental relationship of love God calls us to have with other people. The two essential commandments are:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Every temptation faces me with the choice to love or not to love.
In Mark 2:23-28 all the Pharisees saw was Jesus’ disciples “doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath.” Jesus saw hungry men feeding themselves. The “law-observance” mentality, now as well as then, does not ask what is beneficial or harmful to individuals in particular cases. For Pharisees there are no particular cases; just the LAW: as unchanging and absolute as God. In practice, the LAW is their God.
When Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath,” he taught that to keep God’s laws we have to start by asking what is good for people; what is love.
Initiative: Do God’s will in keeping his laws. Do the loving thing.