My staunch Baptist grandmother, Audia Mae Hoard Roberts, was an ever-flowing fountain of aphorisms. Her usually economically worded, sometimes tersely stated opinions were to be understood by my brother Wayne and me as gospel truth! Among many things, she often said, “Everything that feels good, looks good, smells goods, sounds good, and tastes good is not good for you!”
The late, great French paleontologist and philosopher, Jesuit priest and mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin believed that we essentially are not human beings in search of spirit, but rather spiritual beings immersed in human experience. As we are created in the image of God who, as Jesus teaches, is Spirit, I accept Teilhard de Chardin’s view. Nevertheless, I also acknowledge that we, enfleshed in historical time and space, are sensate creatures. We perceive much of our reality through our physical senses, which, as my grandmother testified, can deceive us.
King David espies the beautiful Bathsheba, wife of Uriah. As king, able to demand anything, anyone he desires, he commands that she be brought to his house. A child is conceived. What began with the lust of the eyes continues with David’s determination to conceal his paternity. He urges Uriah, “Go down to your house.” The pious soldier declines marital intimacies while his comrades remain in battle. David contrives to induce a drunken Uriah to go down to his house. Still, he refuses. David, desperate, conspires to eliminate his predicament. He sends the unwitting Uriah back into battle bearing in hand his own death warrant; a message to Joab the commander of David’s armies, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, then retreat that he may be struck down and die.”
David, deceived by his unbridled desiring, abused his authority, leading to private misbehavior leading to a premeditated, public, bloody murder.
Here is a timeless lesson conspicuous in its demonstrable repeatability. The pleasures promised by the physical senses can yield the cost of misconduct in high places. Whether the realms of royalty, the corridors of politics, the backstages of the performing arts, the arenas of sport, or the sanctuaries of religion.
Now, for those of us and perhaps for that part of each of us that desires the righteous recompense of an exacting justice for wrongdoing, the story continues. Uriah dies. Bathsheba grieves. David takes her as his wife. Their child is born. The prophet Nathan, sent by God, tells David a parable of a rich man who took the prized possession of a poor man. David, as king, thus, judge over his people, angrily cries, “As the Lord lives, that man deserves death!” Nathan announces the verdict, “You, David, are the man!” Then the punishment: The sword of conflict shall never depart from David’s kingdom and the child will die.
Thus, let us always be aware and beware whenever we cry for justice. For none, if not God, surely, we never can wield the gavel of righteousness in a way that guarantees the security of the innocent.
Yet if all this story teaches or re-teaches us is that our human sensibilities are subject to error and that we are complicated and conflicted creatures, cosmic admixtures of angelic and demonic desirings upon which we inevitably act, where does that leave us other that where we already are with what we already know?
I look to Jesus!
At first glance, I saw little connection between David’s duplicity and Jesus feeding the five-thousand; save for a contrast between two kings. One who feeds on others, serving only himself and one who feeds, serves others. Simple. And shallow.
Yet the more I thought and prayed, this remains a comparison of two kings. And two conceptions of power; the capacity to do something, to have an affect on a person or thing to yield an effect.
Facing a large hungry crowd, Jesus fed them. Was it a literal miracle of multiplication? Or were the people, amazed by Jesus’ generosity in giving away what little he had, moved to share what they had until all were fed? I don’t know. I don’t think it matters. The point, I believe, is that each of us (no matter how small in stature or how few our gifts, as the little boy with his meager five barley loaves and two fish) has power; the capacity to do something.
Question. What compels our exercise of the power we possess? Or, given that we are complicated and conflicted creatures, cosmic admixtures of angelic and demonic desirings, more fairly, faithfully stated: What is the greater compulsion of our exercise of power?
Like that of David? Reaching out with an open hand to grasp and close his fingers around what he desires to take for himself; be it a thing or a person?
Or like Jesus? A ruler who refuses worldly kingship. Whose kingship is kinship, for he is the lover of all. Whose justice is merciful forgiveness. Whose power is the sacrifice of service. Therefore, a king who reaches out with open hands scarred by the nails of his crucifixion through which he offers to all life abundant.
Which king do you, do I more follow and obey?
In each and every moment of decision, we are called to choose!
© 2021 PRA
#whichkingdowefollow #choosingtofollowJesus #eachmomentisamomentofdecision
 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955)
 John 4.24
 See 2 Samuel 12.1-14.