2 Sm 24:2,9-17; Ps 32:1,2,5,6,7; Mk 6:1-6
"With glad cries of freedom you will ring me around!"
Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may the LORD preserve you from ailments of the throat and every kind of evil. So the priest prays over every believer using the candles blessed during yesterday's feast. With today's psalm we seek the LORD as our shelter from distress and disease. Indeed, we cry out gladly of the freedom of his love with which he rings us around. The "every kind of evil" in the prayer of blessing from today's feast is a reference to the greatest of all evils that is sin. Our responsorial psalm echoes the repentant heart of King David. His blessing came only when the LORD imputed to him no guilt and when his spirit was cleansed of guile. Indeed, his faults were taken away, and his sins were covered. Such a blessing came only because he confessed his fault and did not hide his guilt. King David did not obey the LORD and he was free to admit his sin. This repentance enabled the mercy of God to abound again in his life. The neighbors of the Lord Jesus were not so repentant and humble. They resisted and resented the Lord Jesus. They took offence at him. How do we respond to the Lord Jesus, especially when his preaching challenges us and our way of life? Are we honest enough to repent, or are we haughty enough to resist?
Why did the King feel guilty about commanding a census be taken? Joab tried to resist this order, but King David insisted. He would not attend to the wisdom of his most loyal general. Joab knew that this was the action of an insecure leader. Indeed, the need David had to find out how many men in Israel were fit for military service was a clear sign of his lack of trust. King David was not so sure any more that the LORD was with him. The King of Israel did not trust the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords! Among his own Chosen People, even with his chosen king, there was no trust in the LORD. Indeed, the people followed the king and the king arose from the people. Both were afraid. Lack of trust arises out of fear and feeds into fear. The only One King David needed to fear was the LORD. Indeed, there were consequences to his lack of trust. Through the Prophet Gad King David was given the choice of famine, pursuit, or pestilence. Notice the response of the repentant king, "I am in very serious difficulty. Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful; but let me not fall by the hand of man." King David, even in his fallen state knew the mercy of God and trusted in his compassion. Indeed, the LORD revealed his faithful love and generous mercy with the command: "Enough now! Stay your hand." The angel of destruction was held back in response to King David's prayer. In this prayer the LORD heard the cries of his people and the repentance of their king. Such a grace filled prayer moved the LORD's heart. His Only Begotten Son reveals the same desire to save, even when his is rejected by his own.
The Evangelist, Saint Mark, does not hesitate to inform the reader that the Lord Jesus was surrounded by misunderstanding and rejection. The leaders of the People are watching him carefully, waiting for him to make a public miss statement that could be used to condemn him in court. His family seems to fear that he is out of his mind. Now, the folks of his own home town add their voices to the chorus of rejection. They resisted his teaching in the synagogue and tried to put him in his place. They wanted to know: "Who does he think he is? We have known him from childhood! He's not so special!" The took offence at him. They were particularly unhappy with his preaching when he challenged their faith and their interpretation of the Law. This reaction is nothing new to Israel. All throughout history the People of God have resisted the preaching of the prophets and have rejected them to their own demise. The Lord Jesus is now numbered among the True Prophets who dared to speak for the LORD. These men were the mouthpiece of God, and few wanted to hear what the LORD had to say when they had already made up their mind. Just like the rebellious King David and the People of Israel, those who came from his native place and among his own kin did not accept the Father's will. The only Messiah they wanted was one who would use force to overthrow the power of Rome that dominated the world of the time. However, the Lord Jesus came to heal, using his power to heal not to lead armies. Such a lack of faith in the message of the prophets and in the teaching of The Lord Jesus amazed him so much that he was not able to perform any mighty deeds, except for curing a few sick people by laying hands on them. This lack of faith was not unlike the lack of faith King David had. Is it not like our own lack of faith? Do we really expect the Lord Jesus to work mighty deeds here among us at this liturgy? Perhaps we take offense at such a question. Perhaps because it touches a truth we would rather not face.