10 Pentecost, July 29
“David sent someone to inquire about the woman” (2 Sam. 11:3). He saw her bathing and that she was beautiful, but he knew nothing about her, not even her name. Then “David sent messengers to get her” (2 Sam. 11:4). Lust without the restraint of love is madness. The king will do what the king will do. Lies, deceit, and murder follow as attempts to cover the offense, but God is not mocked, and disaster follows. “The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one” (Ps. 14:2-3).
This judgment, of course, is a matter of comparison. Comparing person to person, the Lord says, “There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). There are good people who make a real effort to live good lives, who feel the weight of responsibility and the surveillance of a developed conscience, who believe that in some sense they are answerable for how they live. The effort to be good is its own reward, but also a judgment. How good are we, really? How good are we in comparison to the inexhaustible and perfect goodness of God? A moral life is endless moral progress; it is never the presumption of perfection.
We fall and God forgives. And we fall again. And we confess again and God forgives again. But there is so much more to the mercy of God than mere acquittal. God has poured out “the riches of his glory,” and although we are summoned to contemplate and comprehend the “breadth and length and height and depth” of the divine love poured into us, it “surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:16-19). The grace of God in Christ fills us, and yet he exceeds every measure of quantity. So great is “the power at work within us” that he “is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).
Sometimes an illustration helps. Jesus saw a large crowd coming toward him. He knew the people were hungry. He inquired about their food supply. A boy had five barley loaves and two fish. Taking these, Jesus gave thanks and then distributed the bread and fish to the large crown sitting on the grass. They all ate as much as they wanted. Jesus met their need. If you thirst, go to him. If you are hungry, go to him. If you are discouraged, go to him. If you are lost, find your way in him. If you are guilty, find forgiveness and solace in him. “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open wide your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing” (Ps. 145:15-16). Jesus gives what we need, but he gives more than we need, far more than we can ask or imagine. “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost” (John 6:12).
The bread and fish of Christ exceed mere necessity. They are signs of the inexhaustible riches of Christ. Listen to Columban, an ancient saint of the Church: “Let us eat and drink of him and yet remain ever hungry and thirsty. … He is not diminished because our bread is eternal and our fountain is sweet and everlasting.” Jesus is our forgiveness and the food and drink of endless blessings. Let your soul magnify the Lord.
Look It Up
Read John 6:14.
Think About It
Gather up the fragments.