Thu, 25 January 2018
(2Sm.11:1-10,13-17; Ps.51:3-7,10-11; Mk.4:26-34)
“The seed sprouts and grows without his knowing how it happens.”
Jesus in our gospel tells us of the kingdom of God and of its gradual growth without our knowing. Seed is scattered, the Word is sown in our souls, and as we “[go] to bed and [get] up day after day,” remaining in the presence of the Lord, good fruits little by little reveal themselves in our lives – till finally at the time of judgment we are gathered into the heavenly reign. Though small and humble seed, once we are sown in the Lord’s grace, we “become the largest of shrubs, with branches big enough for the birds of the sky to build nests in its shade.” And so this man made of dust may find life eternal in Jesus.
In our first reading there is another kind of gradual growth evident: the sin of David. It is the time of year “when kings go out on campaign” with their armies, but David remains at home – and so in this sin of sloth is sown that which will grow into adultery and murder. For one evening as the king “[rises] from his siesta and stroll[s] about on the roof of the palace,” he sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing, and lets his look linger upon her. Lust having taken hold of him, he takes her to his bed and has relations with her, despite her being another man’s wife. In a vain attempt to cover his sin, he recalls the husband from battle that he might go in to his wife and believe the child David has conceived is his own. But the man is more faithful to the troops in battle than David is to his position as king, and remains apart from his home. Finally, David resorts to arranging for Uriah’s death in battle.
O how sin has grown in the great king! From a small seed tremendous guilt is born. And now, what can the prince of the people do but seek the mercy of the Lord. In his famous psalm of repentance David begs God, “Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt.” He calls out, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt, and of my sin cleanse me.” Recognizing his plight as a member of the fallen human race: “In guilt I was born, and in sin my mother conceived me,” the king shows genuine humility, and so finds the forgiveness of God – but now the sword shall be upon his house. Though there shall be peace in the time of the son he will later conceive with the wife of Uriah, it shall not remain. Only in Christ will God’s blessing truly return again.
Brothers and sisters, from small seeds indeed great trees come. We must be ever diligent about the seed we sow, remaining always in the light of the Lord and nourished by the Spirit. When “the time is ripe for harvest,” all we have done shall be exposed; until then, let us trust in His presence alone.
O LORD, let us grow into your kingdom,
not into sin.
YHWH, let your kingdom grow among us and within us. Let not our sin grow in its place, that we shall not come unto death but new life in you.
We are sinful men, O LORD. All of us fall short of your glory; all of us have done evil in your sight. But you are good and forgiving and there is no sin from which you cannot cleanse us. David your servant has been guilty of adultery and murder. He has acted out of sloth and lust and selfish pride, yet when he calls out to you, you look upon him with pity. When he acknowledges his sin before you, you forgive. What good is beyond your power to do?
And in the place of our sin you plant the seed of your kingdom, LORD. Where once was but parched and fallow land, you bring fruitful growth. Though this seem impossible in our sight, you accomplish it in your will. Though we cannot see, though we do not know how, you work to raise us to your glory. Turn your face from our sins and let us dwell with you.