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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Thursday of the 2nd Wk in Ordinary Time, 20 Jan 2022, 1Sam 18,6-9, 19:1-7, Mk 3:7-12

Our readings today are about two people who are in flight: David in our first reading, and Jesus in the Gospel. They are running away because of the hazard that goes with popularity.

Mark tells us Jesus even had an ESCAPE BOAT ready whenever the crowd began to build up. He couldn’t stop people from coming to him from everywhere, wanting to listen to him and to touch him. That explains why he preferred the lakeshore as venue for his teaching and healing sessions. Whenever the people got unruly, he had the whole lake behind him as exit route, as long as there was an ESCAPE BOAT ready to whisk him away “so that the crowd would not crush him.”

The other person who is running away is David in our first reading. The author tells us he had become so popular, Saul began to feel jealous and insecure. He began to see in David a threat to his kingship. In fact, he expresses this feeling when he says of David, “All that remains for him is kingship.” And so he plans to kill him. He wanted to build a political dynasty and make sure that his son Jonathan would succeed the kingship after him.

Unfortunately for Saul, his son Jonathan had a good heart. Like David, he was not interested in power. What Jonathan saw in David was a selfless man who was always ready to serve his people and even put his life on the line, like he did when he volunteered to fight Goliath, one on one.

He did not see David as a threat; he saw him rather as a friend and ally. And so he did his utmost best to protect him from his own father.

What the escape boat was to Jesus, that was what Jonathan was to David. He was there to save him from being crushed by the weight of his father’s jealousy and insecurity. I do not think it mattered at all to him that he was not going to succeed his father. He saw in David what God himself had seen in this shepherd’s heart: the qualities of a good leader, as well as the love of a true friend.

Jonathan knew that his father had been corrupted by power and had no other intention that to keep it by hook or by crook. He also knew that David had no intention of displacing his father or usurping power from him. He was only sincerely concerned about the welfare of his nation, which he served with dedication and integrity.

I suspect that David was not enjoying it when the women were extolling him as a warrior who was greater than Saul. I think therefore that it wasn’t just Saul he was running away from but also all the ego massage that a position of popularity was giving him.

Mark tells us it was pretty much the same with Jesus and the way he dealt with the evil spirits that kept extolling him in public as the “Son of God.” Instead of saying “More!”, he told them to SHUT UP.

I hope you see now why I said Jesus regarded only one person as his enemy: SATAN. In the same way, David regarded not Saul as his true enemy but the evil spirits that he was often asked to drive away with his music. He knew that it was these evil spirits that were succeeding in destroying Saul and allowing his jealousy and insecurity to get the better of him, to lead him to his downfall.

Perhaps today we should pray for the children of ambitious leaders, who still have some decency left in their hearts—like Jonathan. Let us pray that, like David and Jesus, they too can find their exit routes. That they too can have the presence of mind to run away and get into an escape boat that will save them from being crushed by the lure of power. The escape boat that ultimately succeeded in whisking Jesus away from Satan’s trap was the cross.

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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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