BY DAVID MARION
11th Sunday of the Year 2 Samuel 12: 7-10. 1. Galatians 2: 16. 19-21 Luke 7: 36-8:3 IN TODAY'S FIRST reading we have one of the nastiest tales of power and corruption in the Old Testament. King David behaves in a cruel and disgusting way. Infatuated with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, he commits adultery with her, then does his best to pass off the unborn child as Uriah's own.
When that scheme fails he arranges to have Uriah killed in battle. That achieved he marries Bathsheba.
Abuse of power and sexual corruption is nothing new in political life, and this is a very bad example. But the story does not end there.
Nathan the prophet is sent by God to offer forgiveness and a crude form of justice. First of all he tells David a story about a rich man who even stole the one lamb owned by a poor neighbour. David became indignant at such lack of compassion and then that indignation is turned onto himself. That is just the way that he has behaved to Uriah. So comes the admission of guilt and then the forgiveness.
Is there a message for us in this story? It must be that whatever we have done it is not necessary to carry a burden of guilt throughout our lives. We may have lost dignity and the respect of others.We may have damaged our own sense of self-importance. But we are never beyond the range of the love and forgiveness of the Good Shepherd.
The themes of forgiveness and self-importance run through the passage from St Luke's gospel. Simon the Pharisee kept all the rules when he invited Jesus to a meal. But in his heart there was little compassion and he looked down on the woman "with a bad name".
She had lost her reputation but not her capacity for generous love. At least she was not self-satisfied as Simon certainly was. As most of us are.
It is easy to look down our spiritual noses at those who have made moral messes of their lives and who arc not respectable like us. In fact we rather like being the objects of respect and praise. But only God knows what is really on the score cards of our lives. St Paul's letter to the Galatians is on the same theme. It is not just keeping the Law that matters, but to what extent we let Christ take over our lives.
For Mother Teresa it meant leaving a fairly cosy convent in Calcutta for the streets. For Archbishop Romero it meant a murderer's bullet for telling the truth to the soldiers of his country. For me? t