In St. Luke’s account of the annunciation, we read ‘’Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David’’ (Luke I:18 31-33).
This David is the youngest son of Jesse, anointed by Samuel the Prophet, as King of Israel, in about 922 b. c. When Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers’’ the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward’’ (I Sam 16:13).
In the Second book of Samuel, we are confronted by a different reality in regard to David: ‘’It happened one late afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking upon the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful (2 Sam 11 v2). ‘‘So, David sent messengers, and took her: and she came to him and he lay with her. Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David , “I am with child’’ (2 Sam 11: 3-5). Following this, we see David sinking further into evil-doing by arranging things so that Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah would be slain in battle; then being denounced by the Prophet Nathan and finally coming face to face with his own sinfulness. We see him confessing his sin, lamenting and profoundly repenting the evil he had committed against Uriah: ‘’David said to Nathan the Prophet, ‘I have sinned against the Lord’, and Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die’” (2 Sam 12:13). David’s sorrow and repentance are evident in today’s Responsorial Psalm. We could call Psalm 50 ‘’David’s plea to God’’ after his fall from Grace. Regrettably, only three verses are recorded in today’s liturgy.
Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence,
O wash me more and more from my guilt
And cleanse me from my sin.
A pure heart create for me, O God,
Put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence
Nor deprive me of your holy spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.
In the Book of Jeremiah, we read ‘’No, this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel when those days arrive – it is the Lord who speaks. Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be my people. There will be no further need for neighbour to try to teach neighbour, or brother to say to brother, ‘’Learn to know the Lord!’’ No, they will all know me, the least no less than the greatest – it is the Lord who speaks – since I will forgive their iniquity, and never call their sin to mind (Jer. 31: 33-34) .
When God’s Law is planted within us, we are more in tune with what God is asking of us. ‘’Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms.
to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant’’ (Jer. 1:10). Jeremiah ‘s success stemmed from his relationship with God.
In 1 Peter: 20-24 we read, ‘’But when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. For this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, no guile was found on his lips; When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted in him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. ’By his wounds you have been healed.’”
These words of both Jeremiah and Peter still speak to us today. So too, in preaching the Word or seeking to live by it, suffering is inevitable as too it was for Christ: “Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation’’ (Heb. 5:7).
Sr Cáitríona Geraghty OP