Homily for 20 February

David has been told that he will be king of God’s chosen one day. In the meantime he continues to serve the current king, Saul, faithfully. But Saul becomes jealous of young David and because of his jealousy sees plotting everywhere. So he turns on his servant seeking to kill him. This is not the first time this has happened. David flees with friends and followers. Saul and his army hunt David. That brings us to the extraordinary episode in the first reading.

David has been treated very unjustly, his life and that of his friends is at deadly peril. And today he has the opportunity to kill Saul with no risk to his own life. No one would blame him. He had been told that he would be king. If he is killed by Saul then the promise is unfulfilled. He has been treated unjustly. Saul will not listen to reason. And maybe just maybe God has arranged it so that he can kill his enemy and take the throne.

But David does not. He trusts in God and will not raise his hand against Saul. He trusts in God to fulfil his promise. He will not do evil. He does, however, take the opportunity to try to reach Saul, his king’s mind and heart, to cut through the jealousy which clouds Saul’s judgement and to show him that he means his King no harm: ‘Today the Lord put you in my power, but I would not raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed.’ The Lord did allow Saul to fall into David’s hand and David revealed his heart in his decision, his trust in God and his integrity.

If you’re wondering Saul repents of his evil. And David eventually becomes king in 1010 BC.

I doubt that any of us will be in David’s position. But do we not feel at times that we are treated unjustly – we, too, who are anointed by Jesus and promised life in abundance. And, perhaps, we can be in a position to get a bit of revenge on someone who hurts us or denies us our due. Perhaps we can do a little wrong, just a little wrong, to balance things out a little. The wrong could just be gossip or an unkind word. The only thing which would reproach us is our conscience and maybe even that would not reproach us too loudly especially if we are swept up in righteous anger or jealousy. What would we do?

David’s decision was risky and, many would say, foolhardy. Yet Jesus asks even more of his disciples. Anger, outrage, self-righteousness is not to rule our minds and hearts. That is not to say that our feeling of anger is wrong. When we reflect on our anger, maybe the reason for our anger is not real, but perhaps we are justly angry. However, the feeling does not determine what we do though it alerts us to what is happening in our mind and heart. Jesus tells us that our decision needs to be shaped by the kindness of God who ‘is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked’.

It calls for radical trust. Our happiness, our fulfilment does not depend on someone who opposes us, competes with us, losing. Someone does not have to lose for us to win. God who is radically kind to all can fulfil our lives. His generosity is big enough to fulfil, to fill all his children. It takes faith to trust in this and have our eyes opened to God’s faithfulness to us. He is faithful not in the ways we measure or expect. Jesus suffered radical loss on the Cross. Pilate and his enemies apparently won. Yet Jesus burst out of the tomb to be life-giving spirit and eternal life not just for his disciples, but for those who crucified him as well. What sort of victory is this! This is the unbelievable generosity of God.

Jesus invites us to fix our eyes on him and his Father’s love and to be shaped by these. Walking this path, struggling with these decisions in prayer, opens our eyes to the generosity of God: ‘there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap.’