"Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?"
No one of us would ever tolerate a baker who would cheat on the ingredients for his products. There is a basic honesty that motivates each and all of us who have promised to do something for another. Move this along and bring in promises that we make to one another. Married couples make it very clear that their concern for each other is going to see them through "the better and the worse," the richer and the poorer" quality of life, and, finally, "in health and sickness." A member of a family knows very well that being a family member asks for cooperation from all the members of the family. A Religious Community needs the recognition and acceptance and lived out commitment of interdependence to make a Religious Community a living reality.
Many people look at individuals, or couples, or family members or Religious Communities and ask, "Why in the world did you do that? " And many times the response is, "Why in the world would you ask a question like that? Why wouldn’t I have done that!" –Something helpful or good was done.
So how does this all fit together and tie in with the quote from the gospel of today’s Mass? David was concerned with his men. They were hungry and the only thing evidently available was the bread in the temple. But…that was set aside exclusively for the priests of the temple. No one else was allowed to eat it. Laws are laws. They are to be kept. Chaos brings confusion and, many times, danger.
What has struck me by the story told by Jesus of the incident about David and his companions is that sometimes some of us get so glued to our own needs that we cannot see the needs in others. The Pharisees got stuck to the law. They are blinded by the law. They can’t see their neighbor, let alone God. The accent is on the externals that draw the attention of people to themselves.
How many times I have heard people in the confessional say they didn’t attend Mass on a Sunday, only to find out that they had to rush a sick person to an emergency room. Or another person had a very sick baby that needed mother’s care. Dad made it to Mass and prayed for the family but Mom stayed home. Or a couple were just about to get in their car to attend evening Mass on Sunday only to see an elderly neighbor fall while coming down her porch steps. Racing to her aid gobbles up their time. They didn’t loose contact with the Eucharistic Jesus. Their Mass…a press of a hand and a whispered thanks from a neighbor now resting in her bed with her grateful husband at her side. …"… I had fallen. And you did it for Me."
From time to time we all find ourselves in situations that call for help. Conflicts arise. We can’t do two things. I dare say that Jesus is right there at our side as we reach out to bring help or comfort to someone in need. Can we even say that we have become Eucharist to others in a time of need. Is this an instance of knowing what love is all about as friends and followers of Jesus. From time to time that can happen.
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is a member of St. Paul of the Cross Community in Detroit, Michigan.