Tag Archives: David

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: Cycle C

1st READING – 2 SAMUEL 5: 1-3

David was not perfect.  David was a sinner, yet he would be the one Israel would remember as leader of their splendid past.  Doesn’t that give us all hope?  God comes to us as we are and can create in us a light for the world, if we let God shine through us.

As a sense of messianic hope developed in Israel, it was logical that the messiah-to-be would be referred to as the Son of David.  This king is a ruler who is in solidarity with his people.   Thus, king as benevolent ruler and as shepherd are primary motifs in the first Old Testament theology of kingship (W&W, Birmingham, p. 540).

We are your “bone and flesh” – what is meant here?  Reflect on what it means for our messianic king to be bone and flesh WITH us…

2ND READING — COLOSSIANS 1: 12-20

This is from a Christian hymn probably used at baptisms.  What do some of these phrases mean to you . . .

Scholars suggest that this letter was written most likely in the 80’s A.D. in reaction to false teachers among the Christian groups.  Influenced by the Greek culture of their day, there were beliefs that regarded angels and other ‘spirits’ as rulers of the universe. They were associated with stars and new moons and pagan rituals. These people wanted Jesus to be seen as subordinate to these ‘deities,’ since by his incarnation they viewed him as being contaminated by human ‘flesh.’ This writer firmly tries to correct this view with imagery that is profound and beautiful.               (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘transferred’ has a special purpose in this reading.  In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it lock, stock and barrel to the conqueror’s land.  Thus the people of the northern kingdom were taken away to Assyria, and the people of the southern kingdom were taken away to Babylon.  So Paul says that God has transferred the Christian to his own kingdom.  From darkness to light…from slavery to freedom…from condemnation to forgiveness…from the power of Satan to the power of God  (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 111-112).

We must note that Paul says that in Christ God was reconciling all things to himself.  The Greek is a neuter (panta).  The point is that the reconciliation of God extends not only to all persons but to all creation, animate and inanimate.  The vision of Paul was a universe in which not only the people but the very things were redeemed.  The world is not evil.  It is God’s world and shares in the universal reconciliation (p. 123).  What a way to look at life!  This resonates so closely to what Pope Francis says in Laudato Si, “…all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things.  Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator,” (#83)  This is the kingdom of God!

THE GOSPEL — LUKE 23: 35-45

What two reactions to Jesus are seen here?  Who is the only one to call Jesus by name?  What does this mean to you?  How is this a story of conversion?  What kind of Kingship do we see here?

Jesus chose to exercise his authority as service and forgiveness. He reigns not from a throne, but from the cross. The Jesus who is worshipped today as Lord of lords and King of kings does not Lord it over others, but, rather, he loves and leads all who will follow him to the kingdom of eternal life, peace, and glory.    (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘Paradise’ is a Persian word meaning a walled garden.  When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honor he made him a companion of the garden, and he was chosen to walk in the garden with the king.  It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief.  He promised him the honored place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven.  Surely this story tells us above all things that it is never too late to turn to Christ (Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 299-300).

Christ the King was designated a holy day 1925 after World War I by Pope Pius XI.  There was a strong desire to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly kings and wealth  (Knipper, Hungry and You Fed Me, p. 287).  Don’t we always need to remember where our allegiance lies?

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Scripture Commentary for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13

This is a story of forgiveness, which is what all of the readings seem to be about today.  David owned up to his sin.  By Israel’s law David could have been put to death for his actions, but he was spared.  Justice would be realized through David’s offspring (there was a Jewish understanding that offspring would bear the guilt of their parents).  David would be judged and his act of violence would be reciprocated.  David’s child by Bathsheba would die.  Other children of David would later die by the sword as well  (Birmingham, M.  Word & Worship for Year C, p. 396-397).

Is it enough to say you’re sorry?  How often do we see in the news the excuses people make for bad behavior instead of owning up to what they did?  There is something about being sorry and making amends.  Putting action to the words.  There is a reason why a penance is given with absolution for our sin.  We must go forth.  It is not enough to sit with our sorry.  We must be changed by making our whole body go do something about it.  How have you seen this in your own life?

Galatians 2:16, 19-21

The epistle to the Galatians is known as Paul’s “angry letter”.  These people have aroused his ire in a manner that surpasses anything we find elsewhere.  The main issue is that they want to be circumcised!  Paul feels by them wanting this that they are deserting God and perverting the gospel of Christ.  Is one made right with God by doing works of the law (like circumcision) or by trusting in Christ?  (Powell, M., introducing the New Testament, p. 307-308)  It’s not that Paul has no use for law; he is only giving perspective.  Don’t let it own you.  The game changer is Jesus.  Follow Him.

Paul’s spirituality is profoundly changed when he met the risen Christ.  He reflects on Jesus’ teachings in such a way that he LIVES them.  Then he shares that experience with us.  He feels such a personal relationship with Jesus that he says Christ lives IN him.  Isn’t that profound?  Where else do we hear about such a connection in scripture?   The apostles were too close to Jesus.  They were friends.  They couldn’t make that leap yet that Jesus could be incarnated through them.  But Paul sees this reality.  It is a risk for Paul, right?  He is saying it is SO MUCH MORE than about law.  It is about BEING.  Think of examples in your own life when the ordinary stuff of life (that you thought was important) came at odds with what you believe to be true in your center (where God is).

The Gospel: Luke 7:36 – 8:3

From William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, 92-94:

*When a guest entered such a house, three ‘signs of respect’ were always done: a kiss of peace, a washing of feet, and an offering of a drop of rose attar or a pinch of incense. These things were considered just good manners.

*Why would Simon invite Jesus to his house?

  1. He was an admirer of Jesus.  Not every Pharisee was an enemy.  This seems unlikely because of the disagreement.
  2. He could be trying to entice Jesus into saying or doing something that he can charge against him.  This also seems unlikely because in verse 40, Simon calls him Rabbi.
  3. He may have enjoyed celebrities.  This would best explain the wavering respect.

*Simon was conscious of no need; the woman was consumed by her need. In Jesus she found her need answered; she had been lost and now she was found. She was overwhelmed with love – and with being loved and accepted. She is not afraid to even unbind her hair (act of gravest modesty) and to cry tears of joy. The one thing that can shut us off from God is self-sufficiency . . . It is true to say that the greatest sin is perhaps to be conscious of no sin. Our need can bring us to open the door of our hearts to God’s forgiveness and love. God is love and love’s greatest glory is to be needed.

From Roland Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, 426-427:

This story is about contrast – the contrast between self-righteousness and true righteousness, which is a loving response to God’s love for us. This woman’s loving deeds are not done to ‘earn’ forgiveness; they are an overwhelming response to first having been forgiven. The forgiveness came before the love.

The last short section of this gospel from chapter 8 may allow us to confuse ‘this sinful woman’ with Mary of Magdala. They are most likely not the same person. Mary Magdalene’s ‘seven devils’ might have been a very serious illness from which Christ cured her. There is no evidence that this referred to sexual sins.

From “Working with the Word” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

While Simon’s wrongdoing might be seen as nothing more than a breach of hospitality, as the story goes on we come to realize that Simon’s real fault was in loving little. Because of his small heart, he is unable to see this woman; he only sees what ‘kind of a woman’ she is. To him she is just part of a class of people with whom he does not wish to associate. Jesus challenges him: “Simon, ‘Do you see this woman?’”

It is the smallness of our hearts that reduces people to caricatures; this smallness shuts out others. The love Jesus offers opens our hearts to a whole new world of goodness and possibilities!

Part II: My Evolving Storytelling Ministry BY: Marni Gillard

My cousin Ellen, who lives a great distance from our once big, close, Catholic family, recently wrote that she has trouble understanding and sharing the Bible with those who don’t believe it. To her, the Old Testament God seemed punitive, not connected to Jesus all that much. So, in a rather playful yet serious burst of reflection (leap-frogging through scriptural time), I tried to off my take on Tale and Truth. As Catholic girls raised in the 50s, we heard of Noah and young David, then memorized the Rosary Mysteries. THE BIBLE as a whole? Not so much. So let me offer this hop-scotch through the Bible act as PART II of my evolving STORYTELLING Ministry this Advent:

Dear Ellen,

During a meeting with Moses, God describes God’s self as I AM.  So let’s imagine I AM creating the world in steps. FYI, the Church now sees creation as metaphorical – not 6 literal days. Finally, God rested, teaching us to stop and rest, savor the gifts of I AM. Genesis shows us God through creation’s beauty, its majestic evolutionary ways, its stars and black holes and – then – in several stories with some sweet, lovable, but misguided, egotistical people. Genesis is an amazing dance of human and divine – our likeness to yet chosen separateness from God. In this first book we see God yearning for humanity and humans not quite trusting in God’s providence. Eventually God chooses Abraham and Sarah, offering these two very old people the impossible – descendants as numerous as the stars. Thus, our ancestors in faith, the Hebrew people begin. (The Muslim people too but that story doesn’t unfold for many years.) God’s initial covenant sounds something like: I’ve chosen YOU to carry the message.  I AM  is all powerful (not that I’ll fix your every woe), nurturing, providing Teacher. I’ll LOVE YOU without limit, send prophets and elders galore, make you prosperous beyond your imaginings. All I ask in return is keep turning to me…NOTICE I’m here. THANK me for creation. RESPECT that I am your guide. And God sent deliverance from oppression, rules for the road, even a promised milk and honey land.

But…for those good but miss-the-mark humans, that was just too good to be true. Soon they were whining, “Can’t we just have a KING – one who FIGHTS for us and wins? Brings us wealth and the spoils of war?  You know, like all the other tribal people? Can’t you hear God sigh?  Our great I AM, our Mother/Father/Mystery/Wisdom/Parent shook God’s head and said…OK, if that’s what you really WANT. Don’t say I didn’t warn you (through Samuel, God’s spokesman at the time). Human kings can be pretty horrible when they forget I AM!   So Saul became the first king that the PEOPLE chose and God said, “OK I’ll bless that king, but he’d better remember I AM. Saul turned out to be not all that devoted to God. (He grew jealous at just the sight of young David and tried to KILL him! You can understand how God did not like that!)

Yet, God saw something special in young David, Jesse’s youngest boy, out there in the fields playing his lyre. So I AM thought, “This one just might make a truly great king.”  David, like some humans, got full of himself and made some less-than-wise choices (Bathsheba). But, God’s teacher Nathan set David straight, and he turned to God (good move!) wisely and humbly saying, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”  He wrote the top ten songs to God we call Psalms, and straightened himself out. So God gave David a brilliant son named Solomon who, again humbly, asked for WISDOM! God thought, “Good choice! Just maybe this king thing WILL work.” But Solomon got greedy and arrogant. He thought he’d be famous for THE BEST EVER TEMPLE for God and turned lots of God’s chosen people into slaves to build it.  Then he taxed to death the rest to balance the budget. Not so wise. He also partied with concubines galore. Frankly, after that, hardly any earthly king could keep the Hebrew people close to God for a very long time.

The rest of the Old Testament is full of nasty kings, partying and fighting and foolishly building gold statues to OTHER gods like Baal, messing with “sacred” prostitutes and even sacrificing children. BAD IDEA!  Poor I AM is now sighing and frowning. Wouldn’t YOU be? God started sending prophets to say, “You don’t get it! Where’s the LOVE AND RESPECT God asks for? Where’s the help for the poor, widows, orphans? And what is it with these not-even-real gods! God commanded us to spread the word about I AM, the only one!

Soooo finally God called some prophets to give a picture of what a truly great king looks like…NOT militaristic, NOT partying wildly (though he will have some good times with friends), NOT warring with factions, NOT overly stuck on himself or even on the law. God’s prophets warned the people and a lot of destruction came to wake the people up. Part of the message was “Imagine God sending a new kind of KING, as a shoot from Jesse’s tree, from the line of David, yes, but a king who will be about LOVE. Yes, LOVE of God and LOVE of others, especially the poor and downtrodden. Why, lions will lay down with lambs. Children will play with cobras. This King will be about justice and service and kindness and peace. THIS KING will GET GOD, see God as the Providential FATHER that I AM has always been for his people. Akin to David and Solomon and the better Kings (Hezekiah and Josiah), he will humbly lead like a Good Shepherd and bring back the lost of the fold.

So God sent Jesus, who truly GOT GOD, who is God, who became GOD’s WORD to the world.  Jesus’ whole life spoke of what God wants for and from his people – LOVE. God had made humans hard-wired for communal, loving living! God made them to be generous not greedy, service-minded not overly-selfish, hopeful not despairing. (Not that despair is wrong, it’s just a feeling.) God simply wanted people to TURN TO GOD. Jesus did. NOTICE   I AM with you!  Jesus did. CRY OUT for help. The humble, broken, Jesus did and showed us how to stay connected to God.

Honor God as Father. Keep Holy God’s name. REST and turn back to God as the commandments long taught. Don’t get overly picky about humanly designed laws, lording them over those who struggle. Don’t cheat the poor. Walk with them. Stay humble. See the children as teachers of innocence and purity. Allow yourselves to be vulnerable. Depend on God. Turn to I AM for all your fears and needs. SEE the widows, the lame, the blind, the demonized. Never turn away in disgust or fear. Offer compassion toward the down-hearted. Lend a hand till they are out of trouble. Walk WITH them, as God has always walked with you. KNOW the Father. Be still and listen in prayer. Give thanks. Sing. Dance. Play the lyre, as David did. You don’t need another King. Remember my promise: YOU are MY PEOPLE and I AM your God.

Scripture Commentary for Christ the King, cycle C

1st READING – 2 SAMUEL 5: 1-3

David was not perfect.  David was a sinner, yet he would be the one Israel would remember as leader of their splendid past.  Doesn’t that give us all hope?  God comes to us as we are and can create in us a light for the world, if we let God shine through us.

As a sense of messianic hope developed in Israel, it was logical that the messiah-to-be would be referred to as the Son of David.  This king is a ruler who is in solidarity with is people.   Thus, king as benevolent ruler and as shepherd are primary motifs in the first Old Testament theology of kingship (W&W, Birmingham, p. 540).

We are your “bone and flesh” – what is meant here?  Reflect on what it means for our messianic king to be bone and flesh WITH us…

2ND READING — COLOSSIANS 1: 12-20

This is from a Christian hymn probably used at baptisms.  What do some of these phrases mean to you . . .

Scholars suggest that this letter was written most likely in the 80’s A.D. in reaction to false teachers among the Christian groups.  Influenced by the Greek culture of their day, there were beliefs that regarded angels and other ‘spirits’ as rulers of the universe. They were associated with stars and new moons and pagan rituals. These people wanted Jesus to be seen as subordinate to these ‘deities,’ since by his incarnation they viewed him as being contaminated by human ‘flesh.’ This writer firmly tries to correct this view with imagery that is profound and beautiful.               (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘transferred’ has a special purpose in this reading.  In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it lock, stock and barrel to the conqueror’s land.  Thus the people of the northern kingdom were taken away to Assyria, and the people of the southern kingdom were taken away to Babylon.  So Paul says that God has transferred the Christian to his own kingdom.  From darkness to light…from slavery to freedom…from condemnation to forgiveness…from the power of Satan to the power of God  (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 111-112).

THE GOSPEL — LUKE 23: 35-45

What two reactions to Jesus are seen here?  Who is the only one to call Jesus by name?  What does this mean to you?  How is this a story of conversion?  What kind of Kingship do we see here?  Why does the Church give us this picture of Christ, the King?

Jesus chose to exercise his authority as service and forgiveness. He reigns not from a throne, but from the cross. The Jesus who is worshipped today as Lord of lords and King of kings does not Lord it over others, but, rather, he loves and leads all who will follow him to the kingdom of eternal life, peace, and glory.  (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘Paradise’ is a Persian word meaning a walled garden.  When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honor he made him a companion of the garden, and he was chosen to walk in the garden with the king.  It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief.  He promised him the honored place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven.  Surely this story tells us above all things that it is never too late to turn to Christ (Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 299-300).

Christ the King was designated a holy day 1925 after World War I by Pope Pius XI.  There was a strong desire to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly kings and wealth  (Knipper, Hungry and You Fed Me, p. 287).  Don’t we always need to remember where our allegiance lies?

Underdogs of the Old Testament: David

david

David is another unlikely hero in the Old Testament.  Like Joseph and Moses, he had humble beginnings being the last of eight brothers.  It was not likely that he would defeat Goliath the Philistine in battle because he was so small and unprepared.  He was only a shepherd boy.  He could not even wear the armor because it was so heavy and cumbersome.  But defeat him he did, saying, “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, “(1 Samuel 17:45).  David eventually rises in power and becomes king, but his actions are not always pristine.  He falls for Bathsheba, a married woman, and she becomes pregnant from their tryst.  Like Moses, he tries to hide it by having her husband killed in battle.  That way, she would be free to move in with him.  However, later on, he is remorseful and goes back to God for redemption.   “People may still choose to sin, but the goodness of God and his everlasting mercy will be seen in the bounty and the regularity of nature’s seasons, “ (Boadt, Reading the Old Testament:  An Introduction, 124).

We all screw up.  We sometimes make the same mistakes over and over again.  We may think that there is no redemption for us.  But these underdogs of the Old Testament tell us there is.  There is always hope.  They say, “You think you make mistakes?  Look at us!  We have made some big ones, yet God’s grace saved us.”  It is possible, and that is why these stories speak to us so profoundly.

David felt a deeper purpose despite the odds against him.  When King Saul died, David prayed to God about it and moved his family to Hebron.  He told the people, “Take courage, therefore, and prove yourselves valiant men, for though your lord Saul is dead, the Judahites have anointed me their king, “ (2 Samuel 2:7).  Did David really know what he was doing?  David was moving into fresh domains where there were no role models (Holladay, Long Ago God Spoke:  How Christians May Hear the Old Testament Today, 110).  He knew he was meant to be king, yet he had been a lowly shepherd.  His resume was wanting, but there was a deeper purpose at stake.  As Ruether says, “It is only in that gratuitous and transcendent mystery of freedom, that dawns upon us without our ‘deserving’ it, and before we have articulated our need for it, that we find ourselves able to enter into this articulation and transformation, “(Liberation Theology:  Human Hope Confronts Christian History and American Power, 9).  David entered into the unknown of being king and became transformed by it, because he knew it was what God wanted of him.  He felt his function in life was to serve his people, and became king because he knew he could secure the nation for them.

Their lack of self ego makes these underdogs of the Old Testament the unlikely heroes that they were.  This helps us relate to them and want to be like them.   “…the hero is a person who lives in close contact with the inner world of the unconscious and its spiritual powers.  This brings the hero stories closer to us…all of us have the potentiality to become the hero, each in his or her own way, “ (Sanford, The Man Who Wrestled with God, 86).

Some questions that David helps us to ponder and reflect:

Do you sometimes hear that little voice that tells you you can’t do something?  Do you think it is from God?  Do you think it keeps you from a full relationship with God?

Are there actions you do that you repeat over and over that aren’t healthy?  God’s grace is always there for us.  “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Romans 5: 3-5

Have there been times when you have felt unprepared yet felt you were called to do something?  How did it turn out?  Do you feel the Holy Spirit was a part of it?

How might you be a hero for God in your own way?