Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time | February 1, 2020

The story of David being accused of his deception and corruption is a telling story of the depths of sin to which people with great power can sink, especially when they abuse that power, as King David did so horrifically.

King David wanted the wife of one of his best soldiers, Uriah, to be his wife. Since the Jewish law prevented him from marrying her while Uriah was alive, he arranged to have him put at the front lines in a very severe battle with a neighboring people and Uriah was killed.

This is why the prophet Nathan confronts him with the parable of the poor man’s lamb and condemns him for overlooking his own terrible misdeeds when David sides with the poor man’s plight.

And of course, God, who is always rich in mercy, does forgive David’s prayer after his repentance.

But … but … the effects of sin are not so neatly removed from his life. Uriah was murdered. Bathsheba was mistreated and abused. David’s son with Bathsheba was ill. Who knows? Maybe it wasn’t a physical illness. Maybe it was a depression brought about by the effects of the sinful deeds of his father. Even the people suffered for David’s sin,  since their leader was debilitated for a long time due to his genuine sorrow and grief at what he had done.

One of the messages of the first reading for today reminds us that effects of sin remain, and have an impact on us for a long time. Like ripples in a pond, they can’t always be taken back. That is the difficult news – the bad news.

The good news – the Gospel –  is that the mercy God gives, and the power of faith in that mercy, also creates ripples in the pond of our lives and our world that can’t be taken back.

A blessing, a good act, what our Jewish brothers and sisters call a “mitzvah,” also has a life that goes on.

In the Gospel story of the disciples on the stormy Sea of Galilee, Jesus brings the calm they need into the moment when they are most desperate, most fearful, when they start to lose faith. The stilling of the storm is a reminder that Jesus is at work in our lives, offering mercy, renewed faith, and new hope.

Like those first disciples who were transformed by seeing Jesus bring the calm and peace that only he can bring, we are reminded that Jesus’ saving action in our lives has an impact in our lives that is destined to go on and on as well, in our own lives and those of others, both in this life and the one to come.

These are good reminders in our society where many think their personal actions have no impact to the lives of others and to the world. Today’s readings beg to differ, and invite us to be more attentive and aware of how our lives might produce less ripples of sin, hurt and brokenness in our world, and, instead, produce more ripples of grace, joy and peace through our faith in the power and mercy of Jesus.

Let us all pray for this insight for ourselves and those who are close to us!

God give you peace!

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As Director of Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I have the opportunity to record video reflections on the readings of the Scriptures proclaimed at daily Mass. I do so as part of larger group of colleagues at the Conference, along with lay and ordained leaders from around the country. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the readings for the life of faith today and to share them here, along with the written text of the reflections. To view these video reflections for past and upcoming celebrations of the Eucharist, visit the USCCB website.