30/01. Saturday, Week 3

1st Reading: 2 Samuel 12:1-7, 10-17

David’s sin with Bathsheba will be punished within his own family

The Lord sent Nathan to David. He went to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his house.

The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.

Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

Jesus quells the storm at sea, overcoming the forces of nature

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


Human limitations and ideals

Our reading shows how even kings share the human weaknesses of other mortals, as is graphically portrayed in the story of David . His affair with Bathsheba was based on lust and arrogance, and in the royal protocol of the ancient Near East was absolutely normal. Yet the prophet Nathan speaks God’s judgment which cuts through all excuses, “You are the one who did wrong! Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you despised me in taking the wife of Uriah to be your wife.”

Ideals are more than statements in a book, even a book as sacred as the Bible; they have to go beyond philosophical deductions, for the service of God is involved. Nathan, in God’s name, tells David, “You despised me in taking the wife of Uriah to be your wife.” God is the origin of our ideals, so that in acting as we know we should, we seek God and love God; as on the contrary, when we hurt others, we repudiate and despise God. This is concretised in Jesus’ words: “As often as you did it for one of my little ones, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40).

He is with us always. We are not alone during the storms at sea, when buffeted by raging wind and by waves breaking against our “boat.” Jesus says to us, as to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Why so little faith?” In him our inabilities are suffused with new strength and our eyes see again a vision of our heavenly home, that enables us while still on earth to forgive, to be patient, to remain faithful, and to put our ideals to work.

Lord, Save Us!

When the disciples were in the middle of the storm at sea, they prayed aloud to him, ‘Lord, save us.’ In this morning’s gospel reading we find another prayer of the disciples, ‘Lord, increase our faith.’ It is a prayer we all probably find easy to make our own. It reminds me of another prayer of someone in the gospels, ‘Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.’ The prayer of the disciples, ‘Lord, increase our faith’, comes immediately after Jesus’ challenging call to forgive those who offend us and who go on to ask our forgiveness, even if they offend us seven times. Before Jesus’ challenging message, the disciples felt their need of more faith, ‘Increase our faith.’ In reply, Jesus declares that even faith the size of a mustard seed can do extraordinary things. The Lord can work powerfully through our little faith. Even if we feel our faith is weak at times, we can thank God for our little faith, because the Lord can do great things with it. We can never underestimate how the Lord can work in and through our little faith, if we let him. [MH]

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