Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Afternoon Meditation: Not as Man Sees

Today's readings (and, it goes without saying, the psalm!) both point us to the future king, David. And the first reading and Gospel also seem to conspire to communicate the same theme: things are not always what they seem. "Man sees the appearance, but God sees the heart."

The little boy David would not grow up to be only a giant-slayer  or singer of psalms; he grew into a man "after God's own heart." Even as an outlaw, on the run from the murderously jealous King Saul, the Gospel seems to hint, he interpreted the Law of God according to the mind of God--while the Pharisees, pointing to the letter, missed the point. Jesus, meanwhile, moves from calling himself "the Bridegroom" (yesterday's Gospel passage) to claiming the title "Lord of the Sabbath" with the authority to tell us just what the Law was intended for.

I kind of need that reminder today. There seem to be two default positions on sacred Law in our sin-infected world. The first considers the Law as a nice recommendation, a sort of ideal that is in no way actually binding (especially not for me); the other extreme would subordinate every thing and every one to the letter of the Law, making of it a kind of idol and of themselves its divinely appointed guardians. I find I can switch sides, depending on just what area of "law" is involved. (My inner Pharisee really gets going--as happened today--when a celebrant puts his fingerprints all over the liturgy!)

We're challenged (and Pope Francis is making this challenge a hallmark of his ministry) to "put on the mind of Christ," whether we need to pay more attention to the "Sabbath as made for man" or to the "Lord of the Sabbath" and his claims on us.

(Lord of the Sabbath, may your Spirit rush upon me as upon the boy David!)

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