To the Aid of Absalom: Weekly Message for 02-04-2020

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Today’s first reading at Mass tells of the dramatic end of Absalom, the rebellious son of David who declared himself king and set his father fleeing for safety. 

After a military battle, Absalom meets his death in a tragicomic way. Riding on a mule, he gets his hair caught in the branches of a tree. He is left hanging “between heaven and earth,” while the mule moves on. 

Dangling and helpless, Absalom becomes easy prey for Joab, a commander of David’s army, who attacks the swinging rebel with three well-placed darts. Joab’s armor-bearers then move in and finish the grim job. 

If Joab expected gratitude from David for stopping Absalom, he was to be sorely disappointed. Instead of rejoicing, David wept profoundly over the news of his son. “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!” 

This biblical passage resonates well in our own day when the Church teems with rebellious offspring. It prompts the question, What is to be done? 

David’s response is exemplary. Rather than resorting to darts, he maintains a father’s love for Absalom, to the point of being willing to die in place of his wayward son. 

This heart of mercy will be a hallmark of a future Son of David. Jesus will come, not to punish the lost sheep of Israel but to bring them gently back to the fold. 

A similar task awaits many of us. With our prayers, sacrifices, and examples of charity, we can cooperate with God’s grace to bring back the wayward people in our midst. 

And should the chances of their conversion seem remote, we need only recall the power of Our Lord’s mercy (see Miracles of Mercy: A Retreat Guide on the Healing Touch of Jesus). 

For a Davidic heart and divine grace can work wonders. 

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

2 Comments
  1. This is a very good reminder. I needed to read this, as people and law makers in the news who purport to be Catholic obviously are not living out the faith…faithfully, it tends to make me and others I know angry. That said, while we can be angry (be angry (righteously) and sin not, as St Paul said) at their actions and politics as what happens when they make ‘bad law’ which is ‘no law’ (i.e. abortion and pushing for infanticide) we must remember they were baptized Catholics and really pray for them, and not let our anger become sin.

    Yes, they are scandalizing many and that is a very tragic thing and will not bode well for them if they do not repent! It is horrible, but we must not let our anger turn to bitterness (sin) so much so that we do not pray for them. I really need to pray for those rebellious Catholic politicians in D.C. more than I have. I hate what they say, and what they ‘do’ but I cannot let that hate dwell or grow into bitterness toward them and hate them. That said, I don’t have to have ‘warm fuzzy feelings’ for them either, but I must pray for them to repent, be converted and live to fight the “good fight” – fighting to save lives, to not kill babies and destroy mothers and families, but to save them.

    Lord, help me to love as You do and pray more for your “lost sheep” in our government. Also those in our families. Amen.

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