“Be a Man”!

Thursday of Week 4 in Ordinary Time
1 Kgs 2: 1-4; 10-12; Mark 6: 7-13
Deacon Larry Brockman

“Take courage and be a man”. These are David’s words to his son Solomon as David rested on his deathbed.

And just to make certain Solomon understood what that meant, David elaborated on what it means to be a man (or woman). It means following the law of God- his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees. In other words, putting away any tendency to folly and to accept the responsibilities of life. But first and foremost, the will of God.

In Solomon’s case, his role was to rule Israel as a successor to God’s chosen one, David. Solomon had received a mandate, his marching orders. He was to do God’s will and obey Him in all things and to make certain that his descendants and the people followed the will of the Lord and kept his law. Solomon was a prefiguring of the Messiah to come. Through Solomon, the promises made to King David were to be passed on to David’s descendants and the Kingdom of Israel would be maintained.

Only things didn’t work out that way. Solomon and his descendants strayed from the path, Their emphasis was on things of the world- a worldly Kingdom; and their priests and Pharisees distorted the meaning of the law. Rather than a law that moved their hearts, they interpreted the law literally.

Nearly 1000 years later, Jesus arrives on the scene. Jesus became the true Messiah that Solomon prefigured. He was the first-born son of God, and God’s chosen one. And Jesus mission was to preach repentance. Jesus message was to live the law of God in your heart. And so, Jesus commissions the disciples to preach repentance.

The disciples’ authority is established by the power Jesus gave them to cast out evil spirits and to cure the sick and lame. They are given their marching orders, and discharged to carry them out- to go forth two by two and spread the message of Jesus, a call to repentance; to love your neighbor as yourself; and to find and do the will of God in your life.

We are nourished today by two messages. The first message is the message in the first reading. Given human tendencies, civil authorities will lose favor with God if they do not follow his lead. In fact, our civil leaders have fallen into the same human trap as the kings of Israel. They are preoccupied with things of the world- getting elected, making money, and wielding power. They do not govern the people according to God’s law, a law of love.

And our spiritual life has to go deeper than following the law. It is only human to look for a way to follow the law in a literal sense- to do what is required to satisfy the letter, but not necessarily the intent of the law, and then to settle onto a comfortable plateau of compliance.

But that is not satisfactory to God. And so, the Gospel message rings loud and clear for us today. The Church has been commissioned by Jesus to go into our midst with the message of repentance. We are the townspeople who receive that message. Do we welcome God’s message amongst us? Or are we rejecting it. Rejecting it can take many forms- but procrastinating and even forgetting on a daily basis are the easiest paths.

We are just a couple of weeks away from Lent. The time is coming for us to reflect on our role as Christians. It is a time to “take courage, and to be a man”. And that means repenting of our ways.

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