Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On Rich Soil

I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you: when your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom. He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. 2 Samuel 7:11B-14A

And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Mark 4:8-9

But I will not take my mercy from him, nor will I betray my bond of faithfulness.  I will not violate my covenant; the promise of my lips I will not alter.

What has the Lord done for David?  What message is being delivered today? 

According to the notes in the New American Bible: 
The message Nathan delivers to David, called the Dynastic Oracle, is prompted by David’s intention to build a house (i.e., a temple) for the Lord, like David’s own house (i.e., palace) of cedar. David is told, in effect, not to bother building a house for the Lord; rather, the Lord will make a house for him—a dynasty, the House of David. Not only will he have descendants who will sit upon the throne of Israel, their rule will last forever; and even if they transgress the Lord’s commands, the line of David will never be removed from kingship as Saul was. The oracle establishes the Davidic king as standing in relationship to the Lord as a son to a father.[i]

David went from the pasture where he was watching over the sheep to become ruler of all the people of Israel.    Not only had the Lord raised up his station in life, but also that Moreover, the LORD “declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you” not the other way around. 

Previously, the idea was that the promise of the throne would be dependent upon faithfulness:  “If your sons observe my covenant, and my decrees I shall teach them, their sons, in turn, shall sit forever on your throne.”  (Psalm 132:12)  However, the Lord provides an unconditional promise to provide for David no matter what.  This unconditional love is reflected in Psalm 88: 34-35: But I will not take my mercy from him, nor will I betray my bond of faithfulness.  I will not violate my covenant; the promise of my lips I will not alter.

Down through European history, the Divine Right of the King was contingent upon having a blessing from God.  However, this concept gave way to the consent of the governed, the basis for modern governments like ours, which derive power from the people.  Such a blessing is not reserved for the King alone.  Jesus brought about a church founded upon the notion that every one of us are baptized priest, prophet and king in the line David.  As siblings of Christ, we are the inheritors of this unconditional promise of love. 

The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once
and takes away the word sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who,
when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
But they have no roots; they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
they quickly fall away.
Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word,
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches,
and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word,
and it bears no fruit.
(Mark 4:14-19)

The image has shifted from the shepherd in the Hebrew Bible to the farmer in the Good News.  Neither are particularly royal.  What elevates the simple people to royalty is hearing and acting upon the gift of the Word.  “But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)

Blessed so abundantly, what are we to do?  How will we react?

What are you doing with the abundant, unconditional blessing you get from the Lord?  That blessing may appear as the children in the neighborhood who help shovel your snow or as riches of time and talents and treasure that we are given that we pay to charities to share with those who really need help. If we get love unconditional, we must give love unconditional.  That, I think, is one of the lessons Pope Francis is trying to drive home in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. The mystery is revealed to us through the parables and through the gift of faith.

The seed is the Word of God.  Christ is the sower.  The fruit of our lives is the action that grows up from our hearing the Word.  Will we react as see that falls on rich soil?

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