Saturday, February 01, 2014

You Are the Man!

“He shall restore the ewe lamb fourfold because he has done this and has had no pity.”  Then Nathan said to David: “You are the man!”  2 Samuel 12:6-7

They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”  The wind ceased and there was great calm.  Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?  Do you not yet have faith?”  Mark 4:38-40

Lift up our boats when the turbulence of the world is too rough.  Calm the seas of our life.  Give us the mustard seed of faith so that we can be faithful missionary disciples acting with the joy of the Gospel.

The big irony in today’s readings (as always IMHO) is the question posed in the boat.  “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  The disciples may not have thought so at the time, but Jesus avoids answering the obvious question in a Bart Simpson-esque way:  “Duh, why else do you think I am here?”  Instead of words, he shows the way.  Faith is the answer and faith leads to action.

David is guilty as charged.  Another leader who had the chance to inspire the people have fallen down own the sword of his own sin. David is the man, rich with worldly goods and possessions, who stole the sheep from his neighbor. 

We learn what this story from the Hebrew Bible means in the notes to the New American Bible.  Literally, David has committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the death of her husband. Instead of directly indicting the king for this criminal abuse of his royal authority, the prophet Nathan tells David a story. In the story, a parable of David’s own actions, a powerful man takes cruel advantage of his vulnerable neighbor. This matters because upon hearing the story, David is outraged and denounces the rich man—thus unwittingly pronouncing judgment on himself (“You are the man.”)

We see that the actions of David do not follow his surface faith in the same depth as we see in Nathan.  And in the same way, the surface faith of the disciples do not show the depth of the faith that Jesus has.

David’s adultery was discovered and he paid the price.  The disciples’ lack of faith was discovered.  The verdict they faced was much delayed because they changed over time. But even though delayed, they still paid a price.

Our emotions betray us and prevent us from keeping secrets from the Lord.  
If we also are “the man” guilty of cheating his neighbor, Jesus continues to care that we, too, are perishing by our own hand. The disciples were guilty of a lack of faith.  But their training is not over…yet. Like David, they will pay a penance in the world for following Jesus – the same missionary discipleship to which we are all called:  to pick up our cross daily and follow Him.   

What terrifies you in the world?  How can your faith grow stronger to tackle it?

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