Find Sunday’s readings here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061216.cfm
Fun fact #1:
Nathan was a special kind of prophet who lived during the time of King David. He was part of the king’s Court, meaning he was one of the king’s closest and most trusted advisers. We hear from Nathan today, and he has some harsh words for King David who has greatly offended God.
Fun fact #2:
There were only three kings of Israel before the kingdom divided. Sometimes it’s hard to remember the order, but I just remember S-D-S, as in Saul-David-Solomon. I never thought about it before today- but there were 3 kings before the kingdom divided, when there was was a period of relative peace. “Three” is a significant biblical number – as in three persons of the Trinity, three days in the tomb, three days in the belly of the whale. Maybe something, maybe nothing.
1st Reading 2 SM 12:7-10, 13
Today we are in the second book of Samuel. David is King of Israel. As we enter the reading, the backdrop is that he has just done something very offensive to God: He fell in love with a woman named Bathsheba, whose husband was Uriah. David loved Bathsheba and wanted her for his wife. In order to get rid of Uriah, David sent Uriah to the front lines of battle. Uriah, being a good and faithful servant, obeyed his King. And Uriah died by the sword in the front lines of battle. David did marry Bathsheba.One of their sons was King Solomon, who went on to build the temple. He asked for wisdom and loved God deeply as his father did. Although David sinned greatly with Bathsheba, God still brought good (Solomon) out of bad (adultery). God always does. What we here today are Nathan’s words to David after Uriah was killed.
The notes from the lector manual are spot on this week:
“David was a shepherd, psalmist, warrior, king, adulterer, and murderer and the only person in the Bible of whom God said “A man after my own heart” (Acts). David did not earn his distinction because of righteousness. He had sins a plenty, but his saving grace was his reverence. He had great respect for God and understood fear of the Lord [one of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit]. Despite the greats in recounted here, he walked by the light of God and never forgot who his shepherd was. A man after God’s heart is not a perfect person. When Samuel anointed David king, God told him not to judge from outward appearance, because the Lord looks into the heart. What distinguished David’s heart was his dependency on the Lord. David was always aware of his need for God. But most of all, David’s was a repentant heart. When confronted with sin, David didn’t despair like King Saul who threw himself upon the sword, or like Judas who hung himself after turning Jesus in. David understood the nature of his sin. He realized he had betrayed the Lord he truly repented and accepted the consequences of his sin.”
During my years in the biblical School, I had a hard time with David at first. David prefigured Christ, and he did this? How selfish my thoughts were, how immature. I was judging him – which we are forbidden to do – and not me seeing David as the repentant man who loved God despite his disposition to sin. Because in reality we are all like David – we all sin. I figured if David is the only person in scripture of whom God said “a man after my own heart,” then I am the one who is off base here, not God. I came o see that we most certainly should model ourselves after David when it comes to our response to sin. We must seek out his quality of heart and never give up. David had a heart of flesh, not of stone, and it is a heart of flesh that God desires from all of us. One that overflows with love and is malleable to His will.
Responsorial psalm: 32
“Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.”
This is an appropriate for the response to the first reading. “Blessed is the one whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered. I acknowledged my sin to you my guilt I covered not. I said, ‘I confessed my faults to the Lord’ and you took away the guilt of my sin.”
The last verse brings brightness to this psalm: “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just exult all you up right of heart.”
2nd Reading : GAL 2:16, 19-21
The second reading is Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This is one of the most misunderstood readings in all of scripture. Protestants and Catholics have been fighting over the meaning of this reading for centuries, and probably will until the end of time. It’s the reading that speaks to how we are saved or justified … is it by works or by faith? Paul begins, “We do know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ…” It sounds like Paul says the law (also called works) doesn’t matter – only Faith matters. That if we only believe in Christ, we’re saved. However, when Paul speaks about the law, and works of the law, he is talking specifically here about the old law – the Mosaic law. The Old Covenant.
Paul is not saying that we should rely on faith alone. He is not saying that good works don’t matter. What he is saying is that the old Mosaic law has passed away with the old Covenant and that the new law requires both faith and works. This theme will resurface in the gospel when a woman shows her intense love to Christ through both faith and repeated actions of love.
How do we know this interpretation is correct? As Catholics, we believe in that “three-legged stool.” Versus counting on “sola scriptura” or “scripture alone”, we believe our faith and our interpretation of scripture stands on 1) scripture, 2) tradition, and 3) the magisterium. We believe these 3 legs of the stool were established at the time of Christ and that they continue to be present in the Catholic church with the help of the Holy Spirit. I admit, it can be confusing, and I continue to work through this concept. But hopefully this provides a new perspective to think about as you hear this scripture proclaimed.
This reading also includes one of my favorite parts of Paul’s letters. He says “I have been crucified with Christ yet I live no longer I but Christ lives in me.” This speaks to Paul’s deep and constant relationship with Jesus Christ. When we come upon hard times or difficult people or situations, this is a simple prayer we can think in our hearts and minds. We can say, “Lord in this situation, please live boldly through me. Be at the forefront of my actions, and do not allow my sinful and selfish nature to take the stage.”
Gospel: LK 7:36—8:3
We are in chapter 7 of Luke again this week. Jesus is in Galilee at this time, performing many miracles as he goes. Today Jesus dines with the Pharisees and a woman comes who was a sinner. The dinner host knows her reputation and does not want her there. The woman proceeds to bring in an alabaster jar of ointment, stand behind Jesus, and while weeping, wets his feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair. She continues to offer actions of praise – actions that show her faith; “works” one might say. The Pharisee don’t see this. They say, “well if Jesus knew who this was he would not want her to do that.” Not so.
Jesus tells a parable about two debtors. Neither could pay the debt, so the creditor forgave both men. Jesus wants to know: who should love the creditor more? The Pharisee answers, “the man whose debt was greater should love him more.” Jesus says, “Yes you have answered correctly.”
Jesus is drawing a parallel to the woman who washes his feet. She has not stopped showing Jesus love since she entered the room. Therefore, her sins must have been quite great. He said to them, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But he who is Forgiven little loves little.” At the end of the scene, those who are present are in awe that Jesus says he can forgive sins, something only God can do. We must acknowledge what a remarkable statement this would have been to hear. That a man named Jesus can forgive sins.
In summary, we have readings today that point us toward living righteously. We have David as a model in the first reading. Though we sin, we must always know repentance is available. As opposed to being Saul or Judas, we must always have faith, get up and keep trying.
In the 2nd reading we have Paul as a model. He desires that his actions be Christ’s; that Paul be merely a vessel for Christ’s righteous actions.
And in the gospel we see once again the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and his readiness to give it in abundance, to give us the peace only He can give. The Old Mosaic law by which David lived has passed away; that covenant is no more. In the story of the sinful woman, we see the new law in action – one of both faith AND works – the New and Eternal covenant of Jesus Christ.