Lectionary Reflection for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 2 Samuel (BTCB) by Robert Barron, commenting on 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a:

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How could this man after God’s own heart, this paragon of Israel, have fallen so easily and so disastrously?

The Council of Trent teaches that original sin—the primal dysfunction that affects the whole of the human race like an inherited addiction—conduces toward a skewing and disordering of the person, a setting at war of those elements that comprise the self. Dissociated and disintegrated, none of the powers of body and soul operate properly or at their full capacity. Thus the fallen will does not choose properly, and the fallen mind does not see properly.

Bernard Lonergan, who as a Jesuit was exquisitely sensitive to the discernment of spirits and the reading of interior states, knew that the fallen mind stands in constant need of conversion. Hence he formulated four great epistemological imperatives: be attentive, be intelligent, be reasonable, and be responsible. He knew that the mind, conditioned by sin, tends to fall into lazy and self-absorbed patterns of not seeing, not thinking, not deciding, and not changing.

Of course, any spiritual director or confessor could tell us that even very bright people can tumble into gross patterns of self-deceptive or self-serving thinking—seeing what they want to see, imagining escape routes that are not there, spinning out exculpating scenarios, and so on.

David, the sweet singer of Israel, the celebrator of Yahweh’s sovereignty over creation, seemed to imagine that his puny and deceptive moves could somehow conceal his sin from God. Surely David knew that even as he chose to take Bathsheba he was operating at cross-purposes with God’s law and his own good. But David’s mind and will were simply overwhelmed by an unruly sexual passion that had been allowed to break away from its center.

Thomas Merton comments that the passions for sex, food, and drink are something like little children, demanding what they want when they want it. Not wicked in themselves, they are nevertheless to be disciplined by intellect and will lest they come, in time, to dominate the soul. During this sad episode, David is a person compromised by the fall, or to use more explicitly Catholic language, a man in the grip of concupiscence, the warping of mind and desire, which is the enduring consequence of original sin.

©2015 by Robert Barron. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.