Friday, January 29, 2016

Don’t Live in a Glass House

By Colleen O’Sullivan

From the roof he saw a woman bathing, who was very beautiful.  David had inquiries made about the woman and was told, “She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, and wife of Joab’s armor bearer Uriah the Hittite.”  Then David sent messengers and took her.  When she came to him, he had relations with her… (Later she) sent the information to David, “I am with child.”  (David made two unsuccessful attempts to get Uriah to have relations with his wife and then directed Joab):  “Place Uriah up front where the fighting is fierce.  Then pull back and leave him to be struck down dead.”   (2 Samuel 11:2b-4b, 5b, 15b)

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. (Psalm 51:3-4)

O Lord, when we sin, grace us with the humility to turn to you, to ask for forgiveness and, to the extent possible, to right what we have done wrong.

Breaking News Alert!!  Wealthy, admired world leader caught with his pants down!  Oh, I can just see how a story such as this one would play out on today’s news.  King forces himself upon wife of respected military man.  Out of wedlock pregnancy results.  Husband refuses to cooperate in cover-up.  King orders “accidental” death of wronged man. 

Adultery.  A child on the way.  Attempted entrapment.  Murder.   People would be eating it up, hungry for all the sordid details.  Earthquakes, wars, terrorist attacks, homeless refugees, starving millions – all would take a back seat, so intrigued are we with sordid stories such as King David’s.

But there are huge problems with our insatiable interest in the public downfall of the rich and famous.  In this instance, we totally ignore King David’s foil, Uriah the Hittite.  For sure, Nancy Grace would never do a show featuring Uriah, but he’s the one we ought to be showcasing.  He’s the “good guy.”  Like millions of other people we never hear about, he’s living a life of faith, loyalty, and integrity.  He knows that as long as his comrades are on the battlefield, he can’t allow himself the comforts of his own bed and his wife.  That’s just not done.  The viewing public might never tune in to hear his story, but Uriah’s the person trying to live the way God wants each of us to live, true to our faith, beliefs and values.

Second, we’re like people who live in glass houses.  We’re avidly following each episode of David’s downfall, inwardly agreeing that he should lose his crown, his honorary degrees and be stripped of any awards received.  It’s almost as though we’re enjoying saying, “Crucify him, crucify him!” But stop and think for a moment.  Is that how you and I want to be treated?  Of course, King David had access to power and the trappings of wealth that none of us will ever have.  But stripped to the basics, how different are his actions from ours?  We know what is right, but we find ourselves giving in to temptation time and again.  (Remember Paul lamenting doing the evil he had no intention of participating in?)  Many of us then try to cover up the situation with lies and more wrongdoing.  It’s what we humans have been doing since we were created, sinning, trying to fix it ourselves, making a worse mess of things, all without turning to the only one who can forgive us – our God.

The only remedy for those who have sinned and those of us cold-heartedly enjoying the sinners’ discomfort is to pray the words of the psalmist, “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness.”  I have sinned.  Have compassion on me, and make me clean again, O Loving God.

If there is anything in your life that needs God’s forgiveness, just turn to the Lord.  As Pope Francis reminds us every day, our God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy.”  (Psalm 145:8)

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