Reading (1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51) Gospel (St. Mark 3:1-6)
In the readings today, we see some very important things that all of us need to learn – and very quickly – that is, we see the Pharisees, who claim to be serving God, who are doing anything they can on the natural level to try to trip up the Lord. They are looking for a way to be able to put Him to death. We also hear about this Philistine who comes against David in the first reading. He comes with sword and spear and scimitar, and he is going to try to attack David with all the strength he has. David simply looks at him and says, You come against me with sword and spear; I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts. That is where the difference is, and all of us need to learn this lesson.
The Lord simply looked at these people in the Gospel reading today and He was grieved by their hardness of heart. It is not any different today. We are not looking for a way to trip up the Lord, but rather the hardness of heart is simply that we do exactly what this Philistine did, that is, we think the battle is ours and we think we can do it all by ourselves. Granted, we will acknowledge that it is the Lord’s battle; in fact, Our Lord in His mercy has given this one over to His mother, so it is her battle now and we can acknowledge that. But then we completely forget it when it comes time to do battle and we say, “Well, I have to do this!” No. I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts is the way David approached it. It is the Lord’s battle, and David said to him, This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands.
That is the way we have to be doing things. It is the Lord’s, and we cannot fight the battle by ourselves. The enemy is far larger, far better equipped, and far stronger than we are. Once again, look at the first reading. Here you have a man who is gigantic, probably 6’6” or better, probably muscle bound with all of his armor and swords and spears and shields and all of the things he had to protect himself. David walked out with no armor. He walked out with his shepherd’s staff and a sling, and putting a stone in the sling, he dispatched the Philistine. It was just that simple. The Philistine was huge, and David was just a boy. The Philistine had all the armor and protection, he had all the equipment, he was much better equipped, he was far larger and far stronger, but David came against him in the name of the Lord of hosts. God, of course, is far bigger and far stronger than anything and everything in all of creation. That is what we all need to learn, and we need to get that so deeply imbedded into us to understand that it is not our battle – it is the Lord’s battle and He is the One Who will fight for us.
That does not mean we just sit back and do nothing. We have our part to do, just like David had to go out and meet the Philistine in battle, and Jesus had to go into the synagogue and be able to face these people who wanted to put Him to death. They did not back away, and we cannot either. But it also means that we do not necessarily have to arm ourselves to the hilt and fill our houses with six months’ worth of food and all kinds of other bizarre things that people get themselves into. It is the Lord’s battle and He will let us know what we need to do and when we need to do it. He will take care of everything if we trust, if we pray, and if we approach things in His name, truly in His name. David walked out onto the battlefield with faith, and that is exactly what we have to do because the battle, we must understand, is not against flesh and blood. The battle, Saint Paul tells us, is against the principalities and powers of darkness and the rulers of this world. It is against Satan and his minions, and we cannot take them on by ourselves. It is far more a spiritual battle than it is a physical battle, so we need to pray and we need to make sure that we have a proper disposition to be able to say with David, I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts.
We have the most powerful weapon of war, and I hope every one of you has one in your purse or in your pocket. It is called the Holy Rosary. There is not much that is going to be more powerful than that in this battle. Our Lord has given us everything we need. All that we need to do is arm ourselves properly, that is, with what He gives us to be armed with, and we need more than anything to have the proper disposition, that it is His battle and not ours, and that we are here as His servants to do His work. And so when we face the enemy of our souls, we do not stand by our own strength, by anything that is natural, but rather we will look at him and we will tell that vile creature, I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.