In the first reading David’s son, Absalom, has betrayed him and has raised an army against him and is moving towards Jerusalem to take the throne from David. David flees Jerusalem to protect it from destruction at the hands of Absalom. Once out in the countryside David is confronted by a man who, belongs to the family of Saul, begins to curse him. David perceives the cursing as by God’s will and offers it up in hopes that he might find favor with God.
In the Gospel Jesus uses the authority of his words to cast out demons that have afflicted a person. The demons ask to be casted into a nearby heard of swine and they promptly run off into the water where we presume they drown. I am sure that the herders/owners were not happy about losing two thousand swine, which were their livelihood. The words spoken by Jesus healed one person but made others loose what they had. The scriptures say that the herders runaway and tell the town what happened. Did they curse Jesus? Were they in awe of what happened? Another lesson in saving one person and letting others go? It is possible that after the shock wore off they were not happy about the situation.
Words have power to lift someone up when they are in need of consoling. Words can harm when used in anger against another. Words can heal or soothe a broken heart. Words are hard to take back once they have left our mouths. When a loved one has passed on we often think of what they said to us and the last words we spoke to them. David gives us an example of not reacting to words spoken out of anger. Sometimes the best action is no action at all. Jesus’ healing of the man with the demon gives us an example of how we know what needs to be said to one person may not help others. In today’s society words are everywhere whether we are speaking to others face to face or through our texts, emails, or other apps that are made for quick communication. Words, a gift from God to be holy and sacred. Proverbs, “Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but those who restrain their lips do well” (10:19). Maybe fewer words and more action is the message of the scriptures for today.
How do I use my words?
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.