Scripture: 1Sam17,32-33,37,40-51; Resp. Psalm: Ps144,1,2,9-10; Gosp. Accl.: Mt4,23; Gospel: Mk3,1-6
The challenge of David against Goliath will continue to be one story that proves the nature of God as the Defender of the defenceless, the Upholder of the underdog, the Vanquisher of the proud and arrogant, the Liberator of a subdued and hopeless people.
The Philistines oppressed the people. They were a more organized nation, older than Israel. They knew the art of war. They were tall in stature, a good war advantage at a period when warfare was conducted solely on one on one combat. They were also more technologically advanced with the kind of armour and javelins and spears they carried.
Israel was doomed, humanly speaking. Goliath was the arrowhead of this Philistine domination on the war front. He strutted and insulted; he made mockery of Israel's preparedness for war; he even had the guts to insult Yahweh, the God of Israel.
On the other side was David, just a youth, who knew nothing about warfare, who had never lifted a sword all his life up till that moment, who had no weapons fit for him among the weaponry of the Israelite soldiers camped against the Philistines. David had nothing, humanly speaking. But David had Yahweh! David was inspired by the Spirit of the Living and true God. David was supported by the hosts of heaven.
David was Yahweh's instrument, uncut, unshaped, unsharpened, crude and unrefined. Alone as instrument, David could cut nothing. The only weapon he knew was a sling. It was clear that against a more sophisticated Goliath, adept in the art of war, David was doomed. But David had something in him that was uncommon because of the inspiration he had from the Spirit of the Living God. David had uncommon courage.
David was a man on mission. He had already been anointed by Prophet Samuel as king, though this was done secretly. The response of David on this occasion is very prophetic and highly inspired: "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied."
This however was not all. David continued his prophecy: "This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into our hand."
He prophesied in the name of the Living God. It came to pass. With a sling and a stone, David killed the mighty Philistine Goliath, cut off his head, hung it on his standard, and threw the Philistine camp into disarray, and got a great victory against them. David prevailed with a sling and a stone.
The Son of God prevailed with the word and the power of the truth. He healed the wicked hearts, He bound the broken hearts, He restored to health. He did good. He saved lives. At the Synagogue today, He healed the man with the withered hand. He did this on the sabbath, the most appropriate day to bring health, wholeness and restoration to the people. He gave life back to the man who could not fend for himself and those who depended on him because he had no strong arm to work. The irony of it all was that as He was saving lives, the Pharisees and the Herodians were taking counsel together on the most appropriate way to end His own life.
We must never forget this: the battle belongs to the Lord always. We are called to defend our faith. We must do all within our power to do this. But we must never forget that the battle belongs to God. He must be our reference point all the time. He is the One powerful enough to defeat the enemy and put their armies to shame and confusion. He will do it. Let us do our own part by crying unto Him and not be complacent in the face of evils and man's inhumanity to man.
St. Anthony of Egypt gives us a good example in this regard. He fell in love with God early in his life and decided to live a life of undivided attention to God m the desert. He lived as hermit and depended solely on divine providence. May he intercede for us in times of danger to our faith by those who want to destroy it by all means.
Let us pray: "O God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.