January 17, 2018
I have to admit, that today's readings, which speak of struggle, battle, and division, inspire me.
Maybe I'm feeling feisty, maybe I'm feeling a false bravery. But maybe it's something deeper. I think if we're honest with ourselves, at certain points in our lives, we relish the thought of making a stand, of fighting for our convictions (and no, this thought is not limited to just men).
Today we hear of David's battle with Goliath. For two enemies who are often portrayed as such polar opposites, David and Goliath actually behave in much the same way. Both make the same boasts about their respective gods' deliverance and both make the same vicious threats. Yet even when nearly the same language is uttered by both men, perhaps the most important difference between the two becomes apparent: it is pride vs. humility. Goliath is confident in his own strength and prowess. David is confident as well, but not due to any merit of his own.
"It is not by the sword or spear that the Lord saves."
Today's psalm cries, "Blessed be the Lord my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war." How? How are you and I being trained? What does this imagery of struggle and conquest really have to do with our day to day lives? Hard to feel like we're really connected with the warrior David, huh?
Today's Gospel, on the other hand (heh), speaks of Jesus' healing. Allow me to let you in on something: the Gospel is never unrelated to the other readings. Crazy, right? How much would Israel have wanted a conquering, warrior poet king like David as their Messiah? But the Lord knows the hearts of men, and as long as strength is the basis for leadership, the ambitious will always covet the crown for themselves.
The Lord, in His wisdom, upends our human understanding of leadership, victory, and battle. Jesus' battle was all too real, yet took a form that seemed paradoxical to those expecting a reigning King of Heaven here below. We hear of battle, of war, of victory and, when today we finally hear of Jesus' works, we hear of healing. A small thing, a hand.
Over the next few days, we will hear Jesus continue to heal, to cure, to drive out demons, to gather multitudes to himself. And in doing so he incensed those who would do evil rather than good. He came at once to unite and divide, to lay bare the hearts of men so that they are forced to confront the question that we so often spend so much of our lives trying to avoid:
Are you going to do good or evil? Are you going to boast in yourself, or are you willing to humble yourself before the Lord.
Our stand, our fight, is to choose both patience and the Passion.
Praised be Jesus Christ, who cannot go unanswered.