24 January 2022. Monday of Week Three in Ordinary Time

24 January 2022. Monday of Week Three in Ordinary Time

Memorial: St Francis de Sales

1st Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10

David is anointed and establishes Jerusalem as capital of both north and south, of Israel and Judah

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. While Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back” — thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

Responsorial: Psalm 88:20-22, 25-26

Response: My faithfulness and love shall be with him

Of old you spoke in a vision.
To your friends the prophets you said:
‘I have set the crown on a warrior,
I have exalted one chosen from the people.’

‘I have found David my servant
and with my holy oil anointed him.
My hand shall always be with him
and my arm shall make him strong.’

‘My truth and my love shall be with him;
by my name his might shall be exalted.
I will stretch out his hand to the Sea
and his right hand as far as the River.’

Gospel: Mark 3:22-30

Jesus does not cast out devils by the power of Satan. Only sins against the Spirit cannot be forgiven

The scribes who came down from Jerusalem said about Jesus, “He has Beelzebul on his side, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.”

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”


On the way to unity

The theme of unity features in today’s reading from the 2nd Book of Samuel. It tells how David united the rival groups, the people of southern Judah and those of northern Israel, into a single kingdom. (And in the Gospel Jesus says that if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.) King David came from the southern tribe of Judah, an area seldom prominent up to that point, since the Mosaic tradition was stronger in the northern region of Israel. To build a sense of unity required theological as well as political agreement. These are relevant values to reflect on during Church Unity Week.

Jesus demands reverence for the Holy Spirit and a clear rejection of Satan. He solemnly warns of the one sin which “will never be forgiven,” namely blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. We need to honour the Holy Spirit and let Him be our guide. This helps us to see the goodness in other tradition. In this way we can hope, by God’s grace, to join them in a reunited Church of Christ.

David’s kingdom has valuable lessons about reestablishing peace. When the elders of the northern tribes sued for peace after the civil war that flared up after Saul’s death, they appealed to the common bonds of humanity, “We are, your own flesh and bone.” They set aside all justifications and grievances, in order to restore peace within their tribes. In turn, David chose as capital of the united tribes a neutral city where each group would feel represented. Building peace with others needs mutuality, rather than demanding unconditional surrender. Christian unity does not come from dominance over other churches, but from a rediscovery and celebration of what binds us together.

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