Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 12, 2016
For months now, we Americans have been evaluating, discussing, criticizing, and judging the people who want to be the leader of the “free world.” We should be. This is important work and it should be given thoughtful consideration. Moreover, open and candid discussion among ourselves helps us as individuals, and as a nation, to come to what will hopefully be a decision that will promote the good of our country and the entire world. This is a right that not all people enjoy…the right to evaluate, openly discuss, freely criticize, and then pass judgment on our leaders.
As our focus narrows to the final two, we should take full advantage of that right that is protected by our First Amendment. At the same time, we need to be realistic. We need to understand that whomever we elect come November 2016, that person will be a finite, limited human being, who, like each human being, will make mistakes.
Our First Reading (2Sam 12:7-10, 13) reminds us that even when Almighty God made the choice and elevated David from a humble shepherd to a boy warrior, and, ultimately, King of Israel, God’s chosen one was not immune from the effects of original sin.
The judge, Nathan, read the indictment handed down from God, The Just and ultimate Judge. The guilty deed, so open to public view, could not be disputed. The people, even though there was no First Amendment to protect them, most likely evaluated, discussed, criticized, and judged their king. No trial was needed. The sentence was severe.
But, in an instant, everything seemed to change. With one sentence…I HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD…David was pardoned. God looked into David’s heart and saw that his contrition was sincere and genuine, and so Nathan proclaimed: “THE LORD ON HIS PART HAS FORGIVEN YOUR SIN…YOU SHALL NOT DIE.”
FOR HIS PART…FOR HIS PART! Those words sound almost like a qualification.
Consider that the rest of the story is filled with palace intrigue, plots, conspiracies, and open revolt. It leads one to believe that his subjects were not so quick to forgive him. It seems that they continued evaluating, discussing, criticizing, and judging to the point of revolting against him. As the expression goes…that’s politics!
Wherever there is free speech, leaders…even those chosen by God…are continually being evaluated, discussed, and criticized. (I suspect Pope Francis would readily agree!) The truth is we are social beings who live in community with shared interests and concerns. We learn, progress, advance…and hopefully improve by our ongoing discussions. How grateful we should be to live in a country where we can do this openly and without fear.
BUT FOR OUR PART…
The Gospel makes it quite clear. It is not for us to pass judgment. Politics might be politics…but…in the spiritual realm, The First Commandment trumps the First Amendment. The lesson to be learned from the dramatic encounter between Jesus, a woman whose sin was so public and open that “no trial was necessary”… and the self-satisfied and sanctimonious host, who passed judgment on both the woman…as well as the Lord…is simple. God is quick to forgive a repentant sinner. And only God has that right!
Pope Francis summarized today’s lesson so well when he said: “Who am I to judge?” And for that, the Holy Father was equally applauded…criticized…and judged! Which side were you on? After reflecting on today’s Readings…do you need to cross the aisle?