Wednesday, January 22, 2014

“Giants are not what we think they are. - The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”

"You ask me whether I am in good spirits. How could I not be, so long as my trust in God gives me strength. We must always be cheerful. Sadness should be banished from all Christian souls. For suffering is a far different thing from sadness, which is the worst disease of all. It is almost always caused by lack of Faith. But the purpose for which we have been created shows us the path along which we should go, perhaps strewn with many thorns, but not a sad path. Even in the midst of intense suffering it is one of joy."- Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.

Scripture Text: (1 SM 17:32-33, 37, 40-51)
David spoke to Saul:
“Let your majesty not lose courage.
I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine.”
But Saul answered David,
“You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him,
for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth.”

David continued:
“The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear,
will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine.”
Saul answered David, “Go! the LORD will be with you.”

Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi
and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag.
With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine.

With his shield bearer marching before him,
the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David.
When he had sized David up,
and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance,
the Philistine held David in contempt.
The Philistine said to David,
“Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?”
Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods
and said to him, “Come here to me,
and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field.”
David answered him:
“You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar,
but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.
Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand;
I will strike you down and cut off your head.
This very day I will leave your corpse
and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field;
thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God.
All this multitude, too,
shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves.
For the battle is the LORD’s and he shall deliver you into our hands.”

The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters,
while David ran quickly toward the battle line
in the direction of the Philistine.
David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone,
hurled it with the sling,
and struck the Philistine on the forehead.
The stone embedded itself in his brow,
and he fell prostrate on the ground.
Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone;
he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword.
Then David ran and stood over him;
with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath
he dispatched him and cut off his head.

The Philistines proposed a way to end the conflict: the greatest warrior from each army would do battle.  The side that loses this contest would surrender.  With sword and spear, the massive Goliath filled the Israelites with fear.  Only one volunteered for the fight.  The desperate king piled armor on the youth, but David was a shepherd, not a soldier.  His weapon was the slingshot that he used against the bears and lions that preyed on his family’s flock.  Goliath was surprised and insulted by the young man who raced toward him.  Later David would sing of the God who delivered the Israelites from the enemy’s sword. 

Today we pray for the legal protection of human life.  In this struggle, the odds often seem daunting.  In our time, troubling moral questions are called matters of opinion, best left to the individual. 

“But what can I do? What difference could I possibly make? Abortion is such a polarizing issue. How can I turn the tide?”

Jesus told a man in the Gospel, “Stretch out your hand” (Mark 3:5). But the man’s hand was useless. He couldn’t do what Jesus commanded, but he obeyed anyway. And in that obedience, he found healing.

Faced with profound political and ideological opposition, we can easily become discouraged. But let’s remember today’s first reading at Mass. David slew a mighty warrior with a few stones and deep faith. We can overcome the culture of death by “stretching out our hands” and witnessing to the preciousness of life.

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