Week of 2 Epiphany: Friday, Year 2   6 comments

Above:  Commander William Adama, from the Second Season of Battlestar Galactica

(A screen capture I took via PowerDVD)

Showing Mercy

JANUARY 19, 2018

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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1 Samuel 24:2-20 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks.  And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself.  Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.  And the men of David said to him,

Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, “Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem to you.”

Then David arose and stealthily cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe.  And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.  He said to his men,

The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing that he is the LORD’s anointed.

So David persuaded his men with these words, and did not permit them to attack Saul.  And Saul rose up and left the cave, and went upon his way.

Afterward David also arose, and went out of the cave, and called after Saul,

My lord the king!

And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obesiance.  And David said to Saul,

Why do you listen to the words of men who say, “Behold, David seeks your hurt”?  Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave and some bade me to kill you, but I spared you.  I said, “I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’s anointed.  See, my father, see the skirt of your robe in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the skirt of your robe, and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands.  I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it.  May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me upon you; but my hand shall not be against you.  After whom has the king of Israel come out?  After whom do you pursue?  After a dead dog!  After a flea!  May the LORD therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you, and see to it, and plead my cause, and deliver me from your hand.

When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said,

Is this your voice, my son David?

And Saul lifted up his voice and wept.  He said to David,

You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, where as I have repaid you evil.  And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the LORD put me into your hands.  For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe?  So may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day.  And now, behold, I know you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand….

Psalm 57 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful,

for I have taken refuge in you;

in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge

until this time of trouble has gone by.

2  I will call upon the Most High God,

the God who maintains my cause.

3  He will send from heaven and save me;

he will confound those who trample upon me;

God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.

4  I lie in the midst of lions that devour the people;

their teeth are spears and arrows,

their tongue is a sharp sword.

5  They have laid a net for my feet,

and I am bowed low;

they have dug a pit before me,

but they have fallen into it themselves.

6  Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,

and your glory over all the earth.

7  My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;

I will sing and make melody.

8  Wake up, my spirit;

awake, lute and harp;

I myself will waken the dawn.

9  I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD;

I will sing praise to you among the nations.

10  For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,

and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

11  Exalt yourselves above the heavens, O God,

and your glory over all the earth.

Mark 3:13-19 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And he went up on the mountain, and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him.  And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons:  Simon whom he surnamed Peter; James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

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The Collect:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 2 Epiphany:  Friday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/week-of-2-epiphany-friday-week-1/

Luke 6 (Parallel to Mark 3):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/week-of-proper-18-tuesday-year-1/

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The lesson to forgive one’s enemies and leave judgment to God is consistent with the Bible.  However, like other Biblical lessons, it has insincere echoes on tee-shirts and bumper stickers.  So, in the same vein as “DO UNTO OTHERS BEFORE THEY DO UNTO YOU,” one might read, “FORGIVE YOUR ENEMIES–NOTHING ANNOYS THEM MORE.”  I prefer the Biblical version.

Saul had tried to kill David more than once.  When 1 Samuel 24 began, David found Saul in a rather vulnerable position in a cave and chose not to kill him or even to harm him.  David did, however, inform Saul of what he would have done, had he been inclined to do so.  This did not end the conflict between the two men, but it did have at least a momentary affect on the troubled monarch.

It can be difficult to choose not to wield the sword or another weapon; some might even call it being “soft,” as in “soft on defense.”  There are subcultures where being “hard,” as in the opposite of “soft,” is considered a virtue.  (Prisons and jails come to mind immediately.)  But consider this:  David, in 1 Samuel 24, was not being passive.  Nevertheless, he did choose not to assassinate his king and father-in-law, who had tried to murder him more than once.  David acted properly and informed Saul, thereby appealing to the conscience of the king.

As Commander William Adama said in Resurrection Ship, Part II, an episode of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, “It’s not enough to survive; one must be worthy of surviving.”  How much suffering would not have occurred in human history had someone, in a certain time and place, shown restraint and therefore broken the cycle of violence?  How much suffering might one prevent in contemporary times by demonstrating similar restraint?  I wonder.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/showing-mercy/

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