Monday February 4, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13a) Gospel (St. Mark 5:1-20)
In the first reading today, we hear something that most of us probably do not like to hear, that is, when David says to his men that it is God who has told this man to curse David. When we look at some of the ways people treat us sometimes and we do not like it, we probably do not usually think that somehow the Lord would be behind such a thing. But God had told David that because of his sin certain things were going to happen; part of that was what would happen with his kingship, with his wives, and so on. All of a sudden, his son Absalom decides to try to take over the kingdom, and David flees. As he is doing so, this man who is from the same clan as Saul, as we are told, begins to curse David and throw rocks and dirt. And it is actually the Lord's Will.
We see that what is important here is not so much that it was God who allowed this man to do these things, but what we need to learn is David's response: David simply said, "Let him alone. What if God told him to do this?" He allowed the man to continue to throw the stones and swear and curse and call David names. That is something that all of us need to learn. Whether it is God's Will that somebody treat us badly or not seems to be totally besides the point; God is simply asking each one of us to learn how to deal with the situation with virtue: to be patient and to handle things the way that Our Lord would handle them. When we see the way people would treat Our Lord oftentimes - He did not curse them. Remember when John and James wanted to call down lightning from the skies because some of the people would not accept Jesus, the Lord rebuked them instead of the people who refused to accept Him.
Today in the Gospel, we see these people who live in a pagan territory begging Jesus to leave. He does not curse them. He does not say anything evil to them. He just simply sends the man He had healed off to preach and gets in the boat and leaves. That is something we need to learn and to see the way that He handled it rather than getting all upset and all chaotic on the inside and letting all of this build and swirl within us - as for most of us it probably does for hours, if not days or weeks or, tragically, for some people it happens for years. We do not let go; we do not forgive. We hang on to these things, and we feel justified in being angry with people. It is wrong. The Lord teaches us just to let go: not get upset by it, not worry about it, just accept it and move along. If we keep our focus on the Lord, we do not have to worry about getting all upset. If we take our focus off the Lord, then we will get upset. And that is where we need to learn the lesson.
So we can learn from David: after he had sinned, this was part of what was going to happen to him. All of us have sinned; consequently, all of us are going to have some fallout. When we see the way they treated Our Lord, who never sinned, and see His reaction to it, then we need to learn, as members of Jesus Christ, to react the same way: to forgive the people who sin against us and to be at peace. Not to curse them, not to be upset, not to be angry, but simply to maintain our peace and keep our focus on the Lord.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.