- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

February 1, 2010

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

3rd Saturday of Ordinary Time
2 Samuel 12: 1 – 7, 10 – 17; Ps 51; Mark 4: 35 – 41

In chanting and praying the psalms, again and again the mercy of God is brought before us. Pope Francis said, “Mercy is God’ name” and this divine gift flows from the depths of God’s nature. It is not a something – mercy is God Himself, the Holy Trinity.

What does mercy look like, what does it sound like? I believe in the encounter between Nathan the Prophet and David the King we are given a very important lesson on God’s divine mercy – its sound, its appearance. With malice, with desire that total disregarded a marriage David had committed grave sins – and it seems in his arrogance, his seeming complacence that the terrible deceit, the murder would never come to light. He thought he had covered it up.

But Nathan came to know and pierced David’s balloon with a parable. The telling of that parable was already the revelation of God’s mercy calling a man to own up to his crime, to embrace his guilt. David’s indignation at the rich man’s action is blown sky high when Nathan says to him, “You are the man!” Those strong words are God’s mercy calling a king to honest admission.

At times, the grace of mercy is an enlightening of darkness, a darkness that cannot experience God’s forgiveness unless one sees the darkness for what it is – in this case, adultery, deception and murder. God’s mercy is not some sentimental philanthropy – it is the strength of His love – it is His desire for our good – it is God’s passion to seek us in all the realities of our lives. David had rejected God but his merciful God had not rejected him. Nathan, in his directness, was a living sign, a living word of this. The Father will reveal through the Lord Jesus an eternal truth – He seeks out the lost to save the sinner – it is God’s nature, His mercy.

To believe in God is to accept God in His mercy, compassion, forgiving love and that means we must know Him. How often in the psalms, especially in Psalm 119, desiring this precious knowledge we pray, “Teach me your ways…by your word give me life.”