Memorial of Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr
(II Samuel 24:2.9-17; Mark 6:1-6)
By most people’s standards the most challenging moral teaching of the Church in recent times has been its condemnation of artificial contraception. Married couples find it difficult to see how using one pill to prevent conception violates the natural law while using another to relieve a headache accords with it. The Church’s response to this apparent paradox looks to the functioning of the body. In the first case the pill interrupts normal functioning of the body while in the second it enables it. With such a desirable goal as sexual gratification at stake, the Church’s position does not convince all people. Perhaps many will have similar trouble recognizing David’s sin in the first reading today.
David wants to take a census of his people. Primarily, he wants to know the number of men available to fight in his army. God would be offended because knowing the number of available troops, David will likely become more belligerent. Also, God recognizes that David no longer looks to Him for strength but to the size of his army.
Trusting in the Lord does not mean abandoning prudence which moves us to act in just ways to accomplish our purpose. Prudence also inspires prayer for God’s assistance. Thus, whether we are an army’s general staff preparing for battle or a family planning a family, we should proceed in three ways. First, we want to pray for help. Second, we will determine the best way to achieve our goal within the limits of justice. And finally, we will move to carry out our objective trusting that in the Lord’s favor.