Memorial of Saint John Bosco, priest
(II Samuel 11:1-4a.5-10a.13-17; Mark 4:26-34)
Although it sounds incredible, modern scholars debate the existence of King David. Of course, his person is well attested in the Bible, but extra-biblical historical evidence that he lived and ruled is questionable. The best extra-biblical record of his existence is an inscription found on a piece of rock discovered a number of years ago in a northern city of ancient Israel. The inscription, which can be dated to one hundred and fifty years after the traditional dates of David’s reign, mentions his dynasty, the “House of David.” Perhaps a better case for David’s existence can be made from the very realistic experience of his life given in the first reading today.
Although an accomplished warrior, David does not accompany his army in the expedition against the Ammonites. Whether or not he has grown lethargic in his elderly years, he should have been grateful to God for the victory of his troops. Quite humanly, however, David turns his back on the Lord by sinning grievously – twice. First, he commits adultery with the wife of one of the soldiers who was fighting his war. Then, when he learns that the woman is pregnant, he has the soldier killed to avoid causing scandal.
David follows the way of all flesh. He allows his passions to control his judgment and does not flinch at committing atrocity to conceal his lustfulness. When his sins are finally uncovered, he does show remorse, but that hardly makes up for the terrible injustice and the horrendous example. His debt and that of all our sins will be paid by his descendent, Jesus of Nazareth. He is the only, truly innocent human being – one who does not flinch a moment to battle evil, even to the extent of making the ultimate sacrifice so that sin no longer will compel the rest of us.