Sunday, February 17, 2008

2 Sam.11[1]

This line begins the story of David's adultery. I'd either never read it - or never read it before, but it struck me as among the most profound in the entire Old Testament. When you read the OT after having gotten the Scott Hahn treatment (or Jeff Cavins terrific scripture study overview), you're always on the lookout for the poetic pre-figuring, or the specifically sacramental. It even helps you tune in more effectively to what was written to be both historically descriptive, yet timelessly, and intimately, personal. All three of those elements scream out from 2 Sam.11:1.

2 Sam.11:1

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle,
David sent Jo'ab,
and his servants with him,
and all Israel;
and they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah.

But David remained at Jerusalem.

I sort of tinkered with the verse to make it a poem. And as a poem, it is immense in its meaning. David was given every good thing by the Lord. He was given all that was promised to Abraham, to Isaac, Jacob and Moses. What Saul rejected, David was rewared, and with seemingly limitless surplus. When he was hunted, the Lord protected him. When he went to war, the Lord conquered. When he took the city of Peace, the Ark came to him. In all of these things one truth remained constant for David: if he fought, the Lord was his ally.

So David fought and won. Many, many times. David conquered and built and conquered again - all with the help of the Lord. But when David had all the bounty of the Lord that came from his struggles, his desire to struggle became less. Then, in the springtime - a time that could not be better framed by the author of the scripture - David opted out of the struggle to stay within the comforts of the earthly home the Lord had helped him obtain. It was in this place of comfort that he became open to Satan for seemingly the first real time in the story of his life. He rested when the Lord's work was still to be done, and he became immediately vulnerable.

The rest of this story is very pathetic in light of all we know of David before it. The adultery is just the first sin that begins a tale of great tragedy and sorrow for those that David harmed, ultimately resulting in the profoundly tragic death of the son Bathsheba gives birth to. It is David's humility and true penance in the face of his sins that becomes equally profound, showing us again why God chose him over Saul. It also resulted in Psalm 51, the model for all honest pleas for God's mercy.

Time and again in scripture, the Holy Spirit is telling us what we are to be - humble, thankful, contrite, loving and childlike in the presence of the Lord. In 2 Sam. 11:1 the Spirit reminds us that when there is a battle raging for our immortal soul, we jeopardize its outcome by staying home.

Friday, February 08, 2008

creating false enemies

I like what Harold Fickett has to say about The Chosen One. Why is it so hard for most of the Catholic Left to see this logic?

But here’s why I cannot vote for him. He says he believes that his
Christian faith is all about “the least of these my brothers,” extending justice
to God’s favorites, the poor. And I agree, brother, Amen. But there’s no reason
to fight for the poor, for social justice in education, for policies that
support working families and the health of communities, and for those who are
terrorized and oppressed internationally if life is not sacred. If life is not
sacred, we will end up not serving the poor—having abandoned the defenseless—but
destroying the human person. Obama’s Christianity embraces social justice, but a
social justice that’s not grounded in the primary value of life—from conception
to death—is worthless, and will, in the end, betray itself. The judges Obama
would nominate to the Supreme Court will guarantee that result, even if the
compartmentalization of Obama’s thinking keeps him from confronting this truth.
An Obama presidency would mean a succession of Ginsburgs, Souters, and
As my wife said to me, if Obama would just declare himself pro-life,
he’d sweep the country. That actually might come to pass, at least in a general
election, although he’d never receive the Democratic nomination if he even
hinted as much. But to those politicians who truly want to “unite the country,”
it’s long past time to recognize that its youngest citizens, the unborn, have
rights, too.

then they will fast

Saint Peter Chrysologus (c.406-450), Bishop of Ravenna, Doctor of the Church Sermon on prayer, fasting and almsgiving; PL 52, 320

There are three actions, my brethren, on which faith stands firm, in which piety consists and by which virtue is upheld: prayer, fasting, mercy. Prayer knocks at the door; fasting obtains; mercy receives. Prayer, mercy, fasting: these three make up one thing and, all together, give life to each other. Thus, fasting is the soul of prayer and mercy is the life of fasting. Let no one set them apart; the three together cannot be separated. Anyone who puts only one or two of them into practice has done nothing at all. Therefore, the one who prays must fast, and the one who fasts must have mercy. Let him hear the man who asks and who, in asking, wishes to be heard. Whoever does not refuse to listen to others when they plead to him will be listened to by God. Whoever practises fasting must understand what fasting is, that is to say, he must sympathise with the hungry man if he wants God to sympathise with his own hunger. Whoever hopes to obtain mercy must show mercy; whoever wants to benefit from kindness must practise it; whoever would like someone to give him something must be someone who gives… So be yourself the measure of the mercy to be shown to you: if you would like others to show you mercy in such-and-such a way, according to such a measure and with just such a readiness, then show mercy yourself to others with the same sort of readiness, according to the same measure, and in the same way. And so prayer, mercy, fasting must make up one, single sponsor to recommend us to God, one defense, one prayer in our favour under this threefold form.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

for the record

The Cult of Obama is being discussed openly now in WSJ and ABC News. I'm proud to declare that I was offended/creeped out by this way before the main-stream media.


Deut 30,15-20. "Here, then, I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."