Commentary on the Gospel of
Today’s first reading lauds the life of King David. The Psalm praises God and recognizes the good fortune that He granted to King David. The Gospel acclamation is the last line of the parable of the sower. The Gospel details the events leading to the beheading of John the Baptist.
While the readings spend much time on royalty (a popular media topic in recent weeks), my reflection leads me to consider how individuals respond when criticized over their actions. The two kings in today’s readings were each reminded of the sinful nature of their promiscuity by a prophet.
David feels guilt and actively repents when confronted by the prophet Nathan (and suffers the death of Bathsheba’s child). It is clear that both King Herod and particularly Herodias respond with vengeance and contempt when confronted by John the Baptist.
If I imagine myself in King David’s court, I can see a king who has changed. David seems to recognize his guilt perhaps as much due to the chastisement which he endures as to Nathan’s tricking him into condemning actions analogous to David’s own.
If I place myself in the events of the Gospel, I see a king who seems unable to admit mistakes who is manipulated by a conniving and hate-filled Herodias.
I think about how my two-year-old grandchildren respond when reprimanded. I will either be told “No, Grandpa!” or be left with a crying pair of twins. Looking at my own life, I recognize that I do not take correction much better. I often initially have a sense of being damaged. Depending on how justified I eventually feel the criticism is, I tend to end up carrying a grudge or I have feelings of failure in my work on this earth. I can be my own staunchest critic. I find it easy to relate to the line from the movie The Two Popes in which Cardinal Bergoglio says “It's not easy to entrust oneself to God's mercy. I know He has a very special capacity for forgetting our mistakes. God forgets, but I don't.”
My prayer today focusses on my response to instances where I have been addressed in a less than flattering manner.
Allow me to recognize that I am human. I will make mistakes.
Help me to assume good will on the part of those who seek to give me guidance.
Do not let me fall victim to my own ego.
Free me from grudges and the bad faith that they carry.
Aid me in overcoming the dark moments that grow out of my recognition of my faults.
Grant me fortitude to correct my shortcomings.
Open my heart to be the fertile soil for Your seed.