2 Samuel 11:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17
Psalm: 51: 3-4, 5-6a, 6bcd-7, 10-11
Mark 4: 26-34
Adultery, lies, cover-up, murder – the story of King David and the planned assassination of his faithful lieutenant Uriah the Hittite is genuinely believed to be the lowest point of the life of this hero of the Hebrew scriptures. In an overt act of Shakespeare-like betrayal and treachery, David is seen not as the magnificent conqueror king, but rather as a small minded, lustful man whose passion for another man’s wife leads him down a path of spiritual desolation and despair. It is only in the next passage tomorrow that David realizes his crime and begs forgiveness.
In today’s Gospel Jesus preaches parables about the Kingdom of God. He uses language and allusions that most of the common folk can understand. However the meaning behind these messages lies somewhat hidden in these folksy stories. Hidden because it will be only those who truly understand what the Kingdom or Reign of God means who will really be able to somewhat understand the life changing power that this new Reign will bring.
The famous Scripture scholar John Dominic Crossan of DePaul University writes that Jesus invited those who wanted to know what the Kingdom of God was to "come and see" how he and his companions were already living into it. "To experience the kingdom, he asserted, come, see how we live and then live like us."
What was it like to live into the Kingdom? Again Crossan answers with familiar words of Jesus: "Heal the sick, eat with those you heal and announce the kingdom’s presence in that mutuality." Simply put, you live in God’s reign when you do justice and promote mercy together.
So what about all these religious folk who wait for an apocalyptic ending to the world which will inaugurate the Reign of God? What does Jesus say to them? Dr. Crossan, while acknowledging the imminent nature of the coming of God’s Reign particularly in the preaching of John the Baptist and later Paul and other early church writers, seems to think that Jesus understanding of the violence attendant with the coming of God’s reign is less of an emphasis. For Dr. Crossan, Jesus does not represent the warrior Davidic messiah but rather Jesus represented a shift to a nonviolent Davidic messiah. One who’s sovereign God waits for man’s response to the inklings of the Kingdom rather than a God whose power overwhelms human history to the point of altering it (or in some people’s minds) destroying it forever.
In this eschatology the question if not: "When will God act?" but rather it is God who wonders: "When will mankind act?" The shift here is truly dramatic. Our God, mirrored in Jesus, is a God of invitation, of the "still small voice." Our God is not the bull in the china shop, but rather the God who "draws us to himself with cords of love" and respects his creation so much that he uses folksy stories, the healing of illnesses and the eating with outcasts to show us how appealing it will be when we together bring to fulfillment this promised Reign of His Kingdom. God loves us so much that He does not wait to bring the Kingdom to fulfillment in a vacuum; he wants us to collaborate with him to bring this ultimate good into reality.
That takes me back to today’s first reading. Every act of injustice, of selfishness, of treachery, of betrayal, of murder takes us further away from our true calling. It ultimately betrays who we really are in God’s eyes and lessens the power of the Kingdom that is here and coming.
Perhaps today we can learn a lesson from juxtaposing David’s failure and Jesus gracious descriptions of the Kingdom God has in store for us. All we need to do as God’s children is choose and act.