Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Facing Goliath

Again today, there is a subtle connection between the first reading and the Gospel for the weekday Mass. Not that the Liturgy is explicitly planned that way! We get these same readings paired together every other year; the first reading is something of a continuous reading of the highlights of a section of the Scriptures (in this case, the first Book of Samuel) and the Gospel a more or less continuous reading from the synoptics (in this case, Mark). But sometimes... they work together in a way I never saw before.
Today, for example, we have two confrontations, in which one party seems at a definite disadvantage, and yet conquers through God's power. The first reading has become the classic image of a mismatched fight: David and Goliath. This used to be a favorite Bible story, but now it hardly ever appears in children's Bibles: too violent! But it is a great story for underlining that raw power is ultimately not strong enough to see us through.
David may be young (his offer to King Saul sounds entirely too self-confident), but he has already learned from experience that God is his refuge and strength: he is not self confident at all.
In the Gospel, Jesus has just walked into a trap. His adversaries, hoping to catch him in the act of violating the Sabbath, positioned a helpless man in Jesus' path. If Jesus cured the man, he would be breaking God's law, and so be discredited as a prophet or holy man. Jesus did not bring out a whip the way he did in the Temple. Instead, he turned the tables on his would-be accusers, asking their permission to "do good on the Sabbath." (Their silence at that really got Jesus angry--something we only hear about from Mark!) In response, Jesus turned toward the crippled man and told him, "Stretch out your hand."
Like David, who literally risked his life on God's faithfulness when he went against Goliath, Jesus put his own life on the line in order to restore the health of that unfortunate in the synagogue. (Mark says, "The Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians to put him to death.")
Have you faced down a Goliath or two in the Lord's name? How has that made a difference in the way you approach difficulties?

1 comment:

emeL said...

WOW. Excellent comment on the two.
I love how you have astutely classified confidence, not as "self" confidence...
Brilliantly written... did not realise that only Mark show Jesus getting a bit... upset!
Like the questions at the end too. xx