Reading (2 Samuel 11:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17) Gospel (St. Mark 4:26-34)
In the first reading today, we hear the very well known and tragic story about the fall of David, as his lust overcomes him and his idea of power in being the king is such that he thinks he can just send and have this woman come to him, and then, of course, violate her as he did. And that not being enough, he then has her husband murdered in order to try to cover up his own sin. Tomorrow in the reading, we will hear how God sends Nathan the prophet to tell David that he knows exactly what had happened. At that point, we see the repentance of David for what happened.
But we also see a typically human problem, and we also see a problem we are having in a very profound way today. The typically human thing is to try to hide what it is we have done. We know what we have done is wrong and we are ashamed of what we have done, so we try to hide it. It does not work. Remember what we heard yesterday in the Gospel, that there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed. The Lord has come precisely to bring the things of the darkness out into the light so we will be able to be free of them. Rather than try to hide the things we have done, we need to make sure we bring it all to the Lord – that it is confessed, that it is out – so that we can be forgiven and the stuff can be removed from our souls. Then we can be free. We have to understand that as long as we keep all this hidden inside, the devil is able to have a field day with us because he can hold it against us. But as long as we get it out and we confess our sins, the devil has no authority because we will simply be able to acknowledge that we have already confessed it and God has forgiven us.
The other half of the problem we are dealing with today in the nature of sin, and we see this particularly in our young people, is that something is only a sin if you get caught. In other words, you can go ahead and do whatever you want, as long you do not get caught. But the sin was to get caught, not the act of having sinned. We have everything backwards. A lot of the young people today, because of the circumstances of the TV set and the video games and the movies and all the things they do, their consciences are so numb to what is right and wrong that the ultimate sin in today’s society is getting caught. That is the only thing wrong for a young person: not having committed a sin, but getting caught.
And that is part of what we see with David. He tries to hide what he did, he does all of these things that are completely wrong trying to cover up his own sin, but then God sends the prophet to David to be able to say, “You are the man. You are the one who did this.” At which point, David repents. He acknowledges what he did, and in that acknowledgement he is forgiven. But that is where the problem comes for a lot of people today; rather than acknowledging the sin they committed, their problem is that they think the sin was to get caught. Therefore, they are not exactly sorry for what they did; they were just sorry they got caught in what they did.
So we see we have an awful lot of work to do to help people get their consciences straight, to be able to recognize what is truly right and wrong. In fact, rather than thinking that being caught is such a horrible sin (it is not at all, of course), what we have to help them understand is that this is truly a gift because God loves them so much that He is trying to get through to them. He allows them to be caught in these ways specifically so they can recognize what it is they have been doing. Now that is hard stuff, but when we look at it, we have to understand it is pure mercy. What would happen if these kids would die with their numb consciences, thinking everything they did they got away with because they did not get caught, and so they are unrepentant for the things they have done? God in His mercy (and, I suspect, in answer to the prayers of a lot of moms) allows these kids to be caught in doing what they are doing precisely in order to try to shake them up, to wake them up, so they can begin to distinguish what the real sin was, and hopefully even to be repentant for the sins they have committed, rather than to think their big mistake was that they did something which allowed themselves to be caught.
That is the part we have to be able to provide; not only to be a good example to the young, but also to provide some basic and sound teaching so they can begin to form their consciences properly, so that their consciences will no longer be formed by Hollywood, but hopefully will be formed by the Gospel and the Catechism so they will be formed according to the truth, not according to some agenda that somebody else is trying to push upon them. It is an uphill battle at this point because it has not been done for a long time. Yet the need is great. In fact, the need is grave at this point because a lot of young people have been swept up in the tide which has caused them to have no conscience at all. So we have to pray because if they will be able to acknowledge their sin, they will be able to be forgiven as David was, and as we are. All of us have sinned, all of us have fallen short, but God’s mercy is bigger than we are. We need to beg His mercy not only for the forgiveness of our sins, but that we, as well as everyone else, will be able to see our sinfulness, that we will have the humility and courage to acknowledge our sinfulness so that we can be forgiven, so that our sins will be removed forever.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.