How do you react? The readings this week ask us this question.
David's son Absalom, started a rebellion and David had to flee for his life. While he was fleeing, a man came to meet him, cursing David for all of the bloodshed. The royal guards wanted to lop the man's head off. But how did David react? He told his soldiers that maybe God had sent the man. After all, it was the truth: David was reaping the fruit of his own sins. He accepted the judgment of God, and hoped that a time of blessing might come after.
Then David's rebellious son was killed. His soldiers rejoiced. But how did David react? He wept for the death of his son.
Then, when the kingdom was secure again, David ordered a census of the people. But, for various reasons, this was a sin in ancient Israel. Realizing his mistake, how did David react? He didn't try to explain or justify his sin. He simply repented. And when all of Israel suffered the consequences, he was sorry that the people suffered for the sins of their king.
The Gospel readings for the week raise the same question — How do you react? — and they point us to the right path.
Jesus healed the Gadarene demoniac, who responded by wanting to follow Jesus. When Jesus told him to stay where he was and "proclaim what the Lord in His mercy has done for you," how did the man react? He faithfully went out and told everyone in the region what Jesus had done for him.
The woman who suffered for 12 years with hemorrhages heard that Jesus was near. How did she react? With faith she sought Him out, touched His cloak, and was healed — and Jesus told her: "Your faith has saved you." When Jairus was told that his daughter was dead Jesus told him: "Do not be afraid; just have faith." When Jesus returned home to preach, He could do no mighty deeds there, and "was amazed at their lack of faith."
All week we hear how people react to Jesus: sometimes with faith, sometimes without faith. What would it mean for us to react to events in our lives with faith?
The feast we celebrate Feb. 2 — the Presentation of the Lord — gives us a clue. The Holy Family entered the Temple, both for Jesus' dedication and Mary's purification. All of a sudden — just as the prophets foretold — the Messiah showed up. How did people react? There was Simeon. He responded by recognizing and proclaiming that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. And there was Anna. She spoke to everyone about the child. By word and deeds they recognized Jesus, and pointed others toward Him. That's what it means to react with faith.
All of a sudden good things happen. All of a sudden disaster strikes. How do we react? The readings this week raise the question and point us toward our goal. In the midst of whatever happens, we need to react with faith. That means being ready to proclaim — with our words and our deeds — that Jesus is Lord. This week, let's try to figure out what that looks like in our lives.