Transcending the age in which we live in (2 Samuel 16,1-9; Matthew 12,22-end), Thursday after third Sunday after trinity, Evening Prayer, BCP lectionary
As by know we have got used to it, business is as usual in the second book of Samuel. War and revolt upon revolt, bloodshed upon bloodshed. This time, it is King David’s son, Absalom, who openly wants to seize the throne. Everyone is on the son’s side, David is on the run. In one place, someone openly insults him and his company. ‘…, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David…And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: the Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son.’
Usually, in a situation like this, the man is killed on the spot. Not that there is no volunteer immediately who wants ‘to go over and take off his head.’ This the socio-cultural milieu of violence in which David is entrapped in all his life.
However, what follows is one of the most striking scene of the Old Testament. David is the only one who perceives that this situation cries for God’s grace in order to raise his soul above this tide of unbearable violence. A similar situation to our culture.
David’s reaction shows that there is hope! It is possible to see beyond the ‘iron curtain’ of our age. It is possible to decrease the violence, aggression and mistrust accumulated on the shores of our present. ‘Let him alone, let him curse.’
And what follows is the most fascinating scene, how David remains detached from the ongoing ‘rage’ of his curser. Symbolically, and this is a miracle of a kind of exodus, David is able to go through the disturbed soul of the age, in the rage of Shimei made fully visible. ‘And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.’ Note how David ‘transcends’ beyond the level of his age. This ‘no’ to the spirit of the age is possible!
Matthew’s gospel, from the perspective of the New Testament, returns to the theme. Our first reading is an important background in understanding one of the most intriguing sayings of Jesus. ‘Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men…Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.’
In view of David’s ‘transcending’ (to go beyond) the cruelty of his age, we can read the statement as this. If one does not make an effort to decrease the violence and ‘illnesses’ accumulated in society, he says no to the life offered by the Spirit. This saying, not accidentally, took place, when Jesus was healing people, liberating them from the destructive demons of the age; and the Pharisees did not welcome this positive change.
In the Holy Spirit, it is possible to raise above the negative gravity of our times. It is our call.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..