King David and seeing the woman

King David at the Cathedral
King David with Melchizedek on the mural at our altar in our Cathedral.

“You are the man,” or so says our first reading for the Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time. The passage ends, “you have looked down on me and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.” Hebrew has two words for “Man,” as does German. German has “Der Mann,” and “Der Mensch.” Hebrew has “Adam,” and “Ish.” “Ishah,” is the Hebrew word for a wife. “Ish,” is also the Hebrew word for “Fire.” The passage begins and ends in fire.

“You are the “Ish,” it says. You took the Ish/fire of Uriah/My God is Light, to be your wife/fire.  The key word here is “Took.” Fire is light and heat. King David takes the heat and kills the light. In the process, he returns to Sheol. Another interesting pun is upon Saul, which also means Sheol/Hell. In Hebrew, Saul, and Sheol, spell the same. I took you from Hell, and gave you many nice things, our passage tells us. You then took. Sheol also means to borrow. God gives us his light on a loan, under the premise that we will share it with others. Hebrew has no words for “Mine,” “Yours,” et cetera. Everything is “to me” or “to him,” et cetera. Prepositions are nasty things. If something is to me, it is from someone and for something. David, which means beloved in Hebrew, takes things for himself and for his own purpose.

Ruth and her wheat on the mural at our altar in our Cathedral.

David kills “My God is Light,” with the sword of the Ammonites. This generally translates as the sons of the Father. Ammonite might also come from the root word meaning, “Leaven,” as in the Ammonites are related to the Moabites, those who gather as sheaves of wheat are gathered stalks of wheat. We do this when we gather statements about those we do not like, without investigating their truth value. We say things we cannot back up, whether or not these things are true.

Our Catholic Catechism states: 2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:  of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor. Of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another person’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them.
Of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

We can say things, and believe things that are true, but believe them without foundation. When we do, we violate the Eighth Commandment.  Mainly, however, our passage speaks to taking God’s Torah, his law, and shaping it to our ends. John 8 has a classic example of this. A woman is guilty of adultery and the leadership wants her dead. They also want to trap Jesus. Will he pronounce the guilty verdict, and show he really does not believe in mercy, or will he have mercy, and turn his back on Torah. They take the Torah, the instruction, the law, and use it for their own ends. Jesus wants no part of this. For Jesus, the ultimate cause, the ultimate end, is God. That is why he writes on the ground, giving pause to reflect on this taking of the law, and not sharing it, causing passion/heat, and not light.

This instruction, Torah, also comes down to a key line in the Gospel reading for this Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time:


Jesus turns to the woman and tells Simon, “Do you see this woman?” The phrase is pregnant with meaning. “Do you see this woman, Peter, or do you see an occupation?” “Do you see this woman, Peter, or do you see what she did in the past?” “Do you take Uriah, God’s light and turn it into the darkness of passionate love of rules, or do you borrow the light and let it shine on others?” Simon Peter makes the same mistake as King David. The Hebrew word for King is the same as the word for Angel and for messenger. The king’s role is to be a messenger from the people to God and from God to the people. He is to be the people’s messenger to each other. King David means, “Beloved Messenger.”

When a Jewish girl wears a necklace, it is likely to say, “Dodi Li, U Ani Lo.” I am to my Beloved/Dodi/David, and he is to me.” If we are going to be leaders, kings, beloved, we must borrow the light and shine it on others. We must see the woman in others, not their occupations, what they did in the past, or their cultural heritage.  This is using the Torah for God’s ends, and not our ends. Genesis 2:15 tells us God put us in the garden/the Latin word is paradise, to guard it and to keep it. No place in scripture reverses this commandment. We guard the garden and keep it. This is putting God first, borrowing his word to bring light to our world.  To be beloved we must love, not be filled with passion as was King David, but light/love.

What does Jesus teach us this Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Elijah revives the sonElijah said to her, “Give me your son.” Taking him from her lap, he carried the son to the upper room where he was staying, and put him on his bed. Elijah called out to the NAME: “O NAME, my God, will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself out upon the child three times and called out to the NAME: “O NAME, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.” The NAME heard the prayer of Elijah; the life breath returned to the child’s body and he revived. Gospel Reading for Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Luke 4:25-26

After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. Luke 4:38-39

Simons mother in lawThere are only two passages in our Bible, which describe a prophet standing over/stretching over the body of one to be healed and doing something, which causes the healing. The first is our first reading from I Kings. The second is Luke 4, which quotes that healing then has Jesus use the same healing for Simon Peter’s mother in law.

Our focus in the Gospel and first readings for today, and for Luke 4 is slightly different.

They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” Luke 4:35-36

Elijah said to her, “See! Your son is alive.” The woman replied to Elijah, “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God. The word of the NAME comes truly from your mouth.” I Kings 17:24

Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst, “ and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region. Gospel for the Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Jess theses statement in LukePrayer is essential in these readings, but these readings are not about prayer. Mark 9 has the transfiguration/Eucharist. The passage following has some interesting lines. The father of the epileptic says, “It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus replies, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”

When Jesus entered the house, his disciples asked him, “Why could we not drive it out?” Jesus told them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” There is only one prayer in the entire passage, and it is not for healing. It is for faith, a faith which brings healing into our world. What is essential to our first reading and Gospel for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is not prayer, but the healing coming from  prayer.

Luke 4 is Luke’s theses statement for his entire Gospel. Listen to what he says about how people will know he is Messiah. It does not focus upon prayer and meditation. It does not mention military prowess. Listen to what it does focus upon:

Jesus heals the epilepticJesus  taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on Sabbath. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

“The Breathe of the NAME is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the NAME.” The Holy Spirit comes from our divine Dance with God, and that includes prayer.

workplace bullyingThe crowds do not believe Jesus is Messiah because they see him praying. They believe he is the Messiah, because he brings tidings of glad news, not to the established middle-class people of his day, but to the poor.

He proclaims liberty to captives. He does not create a nation, which has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prison population, as does the US. He creates a nation, which promotes Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, for all people. He gives sight to the blind; he heals people. He brings freedom to the oppressed. One report shows that in our nation, bullied employees who did nothing about the bullying only had a 3.25% success rate in stopping it. Employees who confronted their co-workers had a 3.57% success rate. Bullied employees who asked their bosses to intervene with the bullying had a 3.26% success rate. Bullied employees who sought help from senior managers had a 3.69% rate. Employees who sought help from their unions had an 8.84% success rate. Employees who filed formal complaints to the human resources had a 4.7% success rate.

Some misguided souls believe government should get out of the business of guiding our nation to be like Christ. Those who filed complaints to a federal agency or external state agency had an 11.9% success rate. Bullied employees who filed lawsuits had an 11.2% success rate. If every Catholic came to Mass one Sunday, there would only be seats to sit 47.3142508% of them. We need to show we are up to the job, that we are indeed like Christ, before the rest of the nation gives us the job. Did the target’s co-workers (of any rank—peers or managers) see the mistreatment, at least once? 95% said “Yes.”    Were the target’s co-workers aware of the mistreatment? 97% said “Yes.” When 75% of the population show they are up to the job, by doing something, we can allow government to get out of the protection business.

When Jesus sees bullying in school, and in the workplace he stops it. Our passage tells us, people will recognize we are Christians, a word meaning, Like Christ, when we do the same. He proclaims a year acceptable to God. What kind of a year is that? It is a year when our Eucharist has real meaning for our world, Mitte Est/Mass, when all Christians are like Christ, striving to bring Tikkun/healing/Christ to our world.