Next weekend I will be preaching a retreat with the theme TRUSTING IN GOD.THIS SUNDAY’S PSALM [115 or 116] commences "I trusted, even when I said ’I am sorely afflicted’."...
Call to mind the question posed at the very end of last week’s reflection – what do we make of his friendship?
Now make a careful reading of
THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [2 SAMUEL 12: 7 – 10. 13]. The Lord God poses the same question to David when the king is challenged with the words: “and if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.” What had David made of God’s friendship? Two further matters were emphasised last week: (1) God-in-Christ is not an a la carte menu, and (2) our friendship with the Lord is – like any other – a two-way street. The king had forgotten both these facts.
However, this reading reminds us of yet another important aspect of our relationship with the Lord. When reminded of reality, and having honestly faced and admitted his default the king was truly forgiven and reinstated in full friendship. David had said “I have sinned against the Lord.” Then, the prophet proclaimed, “The Lord has put away your sin.”
Is this not one of the most difficult matters for us to grasp? There are no recriminations on God’s part, he does not render measure for measure, and he is so unlike us in the manner we conduct our relationships when we feel betrayed and badly done by.
It would be a mistake for us to isolate and focus entirely on the last straw which, so to speak, broke the camel’s back – David’s murder of Uriah and the lust for the Hittite’s wife. These transgressions were merely the culmination of a long list of the king’s tendency to favour the a la carte menu. God was fully acknowledged when it was convenient. The Law of the Lord was applied (sometimes ruthlessly) when it suited David’s personal agenda – and the long-standing experience and evidence of God’s presence and care were often overlooked, if not forgotten.
We must be constantly on our guard against falling into the same trap.
TODAY’S PSALM [32 or 31]
reminds us of both aspects. Firstly, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord … and you have forgiven my guilt.” Secondly, “you are a hiding place for me; you keep me safe from distress.”
The second verse is, perhaps, the more important? It is not a matter of hiding away from the reality of life’s difficulties and disappointments but, rather, of keeping the Lord in a special and secure location in our living. Again, we could recall from last week’s reflection the point about making room and giving lodging to God-in-Christ. Here it is useful for us be aware of the location of the lodging made available to Elijah by the widow. It was a room on the roof, and access to that space was via an outside staircase! The prophet went to his room without going through the house! There was no access that way. We need to give the Lord room and access through our house …. he must be a part of our home and living. Here was the crux of King David’s failure.
NEW TESTAMENT READING [GALATIANS 2: 16. 19 – 21], Paul could have been talking to king David when he wrote “that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith …” It was the depth and reality of David’s faith which was in question. Did he truly believe in God and see himself as GOD’S appointed and anointed agent?
Now, each one of us must add to Paul’s above-mentioned quote, the words ” … “in Jesus Christ.” Do we really see ourselves (through Baptism) as the appointed and anointed agents of God-in-Christ? We can ‘keep the law’ but in what way does this justify us apart from the faith that makes us certain that the Lord is our hiding place,and keeps us safe from distress?
So, we come to
TODAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 7: 6 – 8:3]. In addition to Jesus there are two principal characters – the woman and Simon. Now, tell me: who of the two had real faith? Who was concerned with outward appearances, and who was brave enough to break through conventional barriers?
Did Simon really
DISCOVER any liberating truths? On the other hand we are faced with a person who put her faith to the test, and in so doing discovered that, indeed, the Lord was her hiding place, that she was saved from distress, and found herself – against all the odds – surrounded with deliverance.
What have I discovered through my faith in the Lord?