INSIGHTS: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Insights on the Lectionary
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost Year B
June 24, 2012

Oh God you lay low the giant fears and sorrows that plague us.
You calm the storms that rage within our lives and souls.
Thank you for the grace to endure that which baffles us.
Help us to live the joy of a Christ-led life.  Amen 

In last week’s Old Testament lesson David, the young shepherd boy, was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to become king of Israel.  In today’s text (1Samuel: 17:1. 4-11, 19-23, 32-49) King Saul’s forces are engaged in a “holy war”[i] with the Philistines.  The enemy’s champion, Goliath, a mighty warrior of giant proportions, had already slain all soldiers who went against him.  Saul was fearful and didn’t see how this puny little shepherd boy could defeat such a foe. He offered David his own weapons and armor; David refused them, preferring his familiar sling shot.  David reassured Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”   

I’ve never been quite sure whether David’s courage had to do with the innocent bravado of youth (they tend to think they’re invincible) or an infusion of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps despite his youth he was confident in his own expertise.  He had felled a lion while guarding his father’s sheep: Goliath probably seemed a similar challenge.  It was most likely a combination of all of the above.  God is used to working with the materials at hand to achieve God’s purpose.  David trusted in the Lord; he claimed the victory for God, stating that all those gathered there will know there is “a God in Israel”.   Most of us know the story: David defeated Goliath, laying foundations for his eventual Kingship.

This is a great action story and is appealing on that level alone. However, we all have experienced the puzzling dilemma that, in conflict, all parties feel their cause is righteous and God is on their side.  I tend to think that God is on everyone’s side; our goal as children of God is to live in relationship with the Divine, seeking peace and justice for all creation.[ii]  Like David, we are to trust in God, stand up to evil and oppression.  We all have been given the grace and the gifts to accomplish the tasks set before us.  Like David we can confidently proclaim there is “a God in (our home, church community, nation and world)

In the Epistle (2nd Corinthians 6:1-13) Paul emphasizes the importance of living the Gospel message.  He stresses that he and other missionaries to the Corinthians have provided a good example.  The apostle urges the Corinthians and us “not to accept the grace of God in vain”. There is also immediacy to accepting grace and salvation. “Now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation.”   We are to embrace the Gospel and those around us whole heartedly; “there is to be no restriction in our affections”.  When we live together in true charity, with patience, kindness, truthfulness and genuine love, we truly are the Body of Christ empowered by God. [iii]

[i] Keeping Holy Time Year B, pp. 232-233

[ii] Preaching God’s Transforming Justice Year B, pp. 294 -295

[iii] Daily Feast  Year B, pp. 352

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