Message: We have all sinned. Like David we face a choice. We can try to justify ourselves. Shift the blame. Say nobody can tell me what to do. Those things lead to death. Or like David - or the woman in today's Gospel - admit the simple truth, "I have sinned."
Before I give this homily I want to wish all our dads a Happy Father's Day. I am praying for the dads in this congregation, those who are at a distance from us and those who have gone to the Lord. I am also praying for those who, like myself, are striving to be spiritual fathers. We will have a blessing at the end of Mass for all dads present.
Today's readings provide encouragement for all of us, but particularly for dads - those aware of their weakness, but also their great responsibility. The Old Testament reading presents a remarkable scene. On one side stands a supreme ruler, a king, a man who has killed men in armed combat. On the other is a man named Nathan. He has no political authority - only moral authority. He says to the king, "You have done evil."
Now, an amazing thing happens. The king does not strike down Nathan. Any other ancient ruler would put death a person who dared him. But this king is different. He admits his guilt: "I have sinned against the Lord."
The king, of course, is David. He is the greatest of the kings of Israel. David's greatness does not come so much from his victories or from setting up his capital in Jerusalem or from bringing the Arc of the Covenant to the capital. Those accomplishment were huge, but David's true greatness comes from the fact that he repented. "I have sinned against the Lord."
What sin did David commit? He betrayed his trusted general, Uriah, by sleeping with the man's wife, Bathsheba. When Bathsheba got pregnant, he arranged for Uriah's death. Two terrible sins: adultery and murder. When Nathan confronted David, he admitted his guilt. "I have sinned."
Now, David could have reacted like many other rulers. Instead of saying, "I have sinned," he could have said, "I am the king. Nobody is going to tell me what to do. I make the laws." That's what Henry VIII and hundreds of other kings did.
David did not put himself above God's law. There were other things he did not do. He didn't say, "Well, that's the way I was made. I can't help it." Nor did he say, "It was her fault. She tempted me." No, David said, "I have sinned against the Lord."
Why is David so different from other rulers - or other men? It's this: He know how human beings were made. From Moses he learned that God made man in his own image. He created us with freedom and intelligence. We can use those gifts for good or evil. But the choice is ours. Because humans bear the image of God, we have no right to take a human life (except in self-defense). David knew that murder is a great sin.
And David knew that we are not only created in the image of God, but that "male and female he created them." Besides bearing the image of God, we have the gift of masculinity or femininity. God wants us to use those gifts, not selfishly for selfish pleasure but so we would become good mothers and fathers. David misused the gift of masculinity by committing adultery - a grave sin that leads to lies, deception, even murder - and of course misery to children.
David committed a great sin, but he did not despair. With the help of Nathan, he placed himself under the Divine Mercy. Many Psalms come from David, for example, the one we heard today: "Blessed is the man whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered."
We know today that David could only say such words because of of his descendents. In the Gospel they call Jesus, "Son of David." Jesus descended from David, the great king. Today people ask this question about Jesus the Son of David, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" You and I can forgive people who offend us, but Jesus forgives offenses. In some way every sin, every offense is against him. How this can be we will talk about in another homily.
St. Paul tells us that we are justified in Christ - not by any work. Pope Francis stirred some reactions when he said that Christ's redemption applies to all, including atheists - and he invited atheists to meet us in doing good work. But of course, he did not mean that an atheist can be saved by works. None of us can. Only by faith in Jesus - through prayer and the sacraments.
The facts are these: We have all sinned. Like David we face a choice. We can try to justify ourselves. Shift the blame. Say nobody can tell me what to do. Those things lead to death. Or like David - or the woman in today's Gospel - admit the simple truth, "I have sinned." And perhaps with the help of someone like Nathan, place ourselves under the Divine Mercy. "Blessed is the man whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered." Amen.
From Archives (11th Ordinary Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish 2016)
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish - June 16, 2013)
Parish Picture Album
Parish Picture Album
St. Mary of the Valley parishioner, Susan Howard, made a beautiful video of the procession:
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru